Several Local Churches, Synogogues Leave Greater Cleveland Congregations Over Q Deal Debate

click to enlarge The Rev. Jawanza Colvin lays out the GCC's demands. - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
The Rev. Jawanza Colvin lays out the GCC's demands.

With the debate over the Quicken Loans Arena renovations deal taking many shapes in public discourse this year, Antioch Baptist Church, Bethany Baptist Church, the Temple-Tifereth Israel and the Park Synagogue announced that they will be leaving the Greater Cleveland Congregations. The organization of 43 (now 39) regional faith groups and churches has opposed the deal from the start, taking a vocal stance as negotiations worked their way through public meetings.

The GCC even went on to play a pivotal role in gathering signatures to place the city ordinance on the ballot as a voter referendum. City Council later rejected those signatures on questionable grounds, which are being presently litigated. (The city even sued itself, showing how tightly this Gordian knot is tied.)

Against that background, the four places of worship today announced that the whole thing has simply strayed too far from GCC's goals and platforms of "education, jobs, health care, criminal justice, gun violence and sustainable food programs," as the Cleveland Jewish News writes. It's become too divisive, church leaders said.

GCC today reiterated its stance that the Q deal actually represents a key facet in the state of social equity in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, in the state of those very platforms upon which GCC originally congregated.

"Through shared values across diverse faith traditions we will continue to work together to this end," GCC leaders wrote in a public statement today, regarding the churches' announcement. "Though often intentionally misconstrued by proponents of the deal, our actions on the Q arena expansion has been about seeking to bring fairness, in the form of a Community Benefits Agreement, to a deal which overwhelmingly benefits downtown at the expense of struggling neighborhoods. While we regret our colleagues’ decision to step away from GCC, we will continue the prophetic work of striving for social justice."