Letters to the Editor

Church, parishioners ready for move

Re the Nov. 7 story, Bal Harbour church in center of battle over sale to shops next door: The Church by the Sea has been a proud member of Bal Harbour Village for nearly seven decades. Since 2010, our 500-member congregation has been making thoughtful plans for the shared future of the church and the community it serves.

Plans for our future location include a new sanctuary and spaces that support the church’s slate of community programs. This ever-expanding programming, as well as our popular Sunday and holiday services, is open to congregants and community members, alike.

Regrettably, our current facilities haven’t had significant upgrades in more than 20 years. Furthermore, the building is beset by failing electrical, plumbing and air conditioning systems and roof and window leaks.

Recognizing the need for better facilities, and wanting to secure the church’s existence for future generations, our congregation voted overwhelmingly several years ago to support a sale and relocation to a new site.

While this plan has been many years in the making, the Miami-Dade County Historic Preservation Board only recently began to explore a possible historic designation for the church that would restrict our ability to follow the overwhelming wishes of our congregation. Moreover, it initiated this eleventh-hour proceeding in a manner that violates county code. We have since filed a complaint that seeks to protect the church’s legal right to practice its religious mission as it sees fit and where it sees fit.

The public should know that the desire of the Church by the Sea is simple and consistent: to serve our congregants and the greater community. We’re grateful to our friends and neighbors in Bal Harbour for their decades of fellowship, and look forward to welcoming them to our beautiful new home.

The Reverend Robert W. Asinger and The Rev. Barbara A. Asinger, Church by the Sea, Bal Harbour