Grace Evangelical Church had its prayers answered this week when it received an invite to host services at Our Lady of the Isle Roman Catholic Church.
The good news came after several months of discussion over where the congregation might meet after several possible venues fell through over concerns that public spaces not be used for worship.
The church had most recently hoped to hold its services at one of the firehouses, but that request was denied Monday night. Fire commissioners announced they couldn’t honor the request from Pastor Thomas Charls ad the advice of the fire district’s attorney, Helen Rosenblum. Ms. Rosenblum said she located several cases advising against using public property for religious services.
“I feel bad about it,” Ms. Rosenblum said.
“We all felt kind of bad about it,” District Commissioner Richard Surozenski agreed.
Grace Evangelical, with just a handful of members in its congregation, originally met at the Shelter Island Library for about 20 years before moving to the Senior Activity Center in the town-owned Medical Center.
Both arrangements ended due to complaints about a church group using public property, Pastor Charls said.
Camp Quinipet then invited the Evangelicals to use space there, but with camp activities slated to begin soon, Pastor Charls went in search of another venue.
And Grace Evangelical has found a home after all.
Pastor Charls said his church will hold its weekly 11 a.m. Sunday services at Our Lady of the Isle Catholic Church, beginning Easter Sunday. Father Peter DeSanctis of Our Lady of the Isle said he and Rev. Charls have had a close friendship of more than 30 years.
“It’s Islanders helping Islanders,” Father Peter said. He obtained permission for the arrangement from Reverend Monsignor Robert Brennan, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rockville Center.
“We’re thrilled,” Pastor Charls said. “We’re looking forward to it.”