Arizona House Church Runs Afoul of Zoning Law

Gilbert, Ariz., officials promise changes to city code

A small Arizona house church that was ordered to cease meeting in private homes because of a city zoning law soon may be able to resume the home-based gatherings.

Gilbert, Ariz., officials are scheduled to discuss the situation involving Oasis of Truth Church at a town council meeting March 23. The city’s vice mayor reportedly told a local television station that she believes the code at issue will be repealed.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a national Christian legal organization that is helping the church, says a code compliance officer sent Oasis of Truth’s pastor, Joe Sutherland, a letter in November, ordering him to stop holding church meetings in his home because doing so violated the city’s zoning law. The officer’s letter was not based on any complaints from neighborhood residents, but was sent after the officer saw signs about the church gathering in the neighborhood, the Alliance Defense Fund says.

About seven people attend the church’s services, the location of which usually rotate among different homes in the area, various reports about the controversy have stated.

ABC15 news in Phoenix reported that city leaders said town staff’s interpretation of the zoning code was that small church groups were prohibited from meeting in their own homes. The law is intended to address traffic, parking and safety concerns in neighborhoods, city leaders told the TV station.

Get the whole story from ABC15 news.

Learn more about the church at

From Outreach Magazine  Planting and Your Pastor: How to Cast the Vision—Part 2