The following comes from a June 22 Pacific Justice email:

Dear Friends,

You might find this hard to believe, but we recently achieved a great outcome for one of our church clients … in San Francisco!

You read that correctly—a church … in the heart of the Bay Area … represented by Pacific Justice Institute … secured a unanimous decision in its favor from a local government body. How is that possible? The story gives us some insight into gaining ground in hostile territory.

About 5 years ago, we began working with a Chinese church in San Francisco that was concerned about a marijuana shop being proposed next door to the church. (Whatever you may think about the pros and cons of marijuana in general, I think most of us would agree that this isn’t the type of place we would want our kids walking by every time they go to Sunday school or a church summer program.) At first, the church’s concerns were rejected by the Planning Commission, but they made a strong showing on appeal and got a favorable decision that was later upheld in court. Fast-forward to this year, and the church found itself once again fending off the pot shop that seems determined to locate next door.

Just a few weeks ago church members networked with other believers and friends and packed out a Planning Commission meeting. Pacific Justice Institute attorney Kevin Snider sent a letter and also attended the meeting. We were told the Commission had never seen such a large turnout … and it made the difference! The Commission agreed with the church by a 6-0 vote that this was not a good fit for the neighborhood. The church did a terrific job of working with other schools and community leaders to ensure their neighborhood continues to be a safe place for kids.

Friends, if this can be achieved in San Francisco, it is possible anywhere. When people of faith don’t abandon the public square but show up in large numbers at local governmental meetings to let their voices be heard, good things can still happen. Of course, this doesn’t mean we will win every time, and more challenges lie ahead as a dispensary is now being proposed across the street from this church and another battle lies ahead. But we absolutely must persevere and step forward — like this church did — to support good proposals and oppose bad ones in our communities.