Group reapplies to convert Pocono Dome into church

Pocono Record/June 18, 2017

By Howard Frank

A controversial Korean-based church has reapplied to use the Pocono Dome sports complex as a place of worship.

The World Mission Society Church of God originally applied in March to use the dome for retreats for its church members. The previous application said “the proposed use is a public and semi-public use of a welfare, educational, religious, non-commercial recreational and cultural nature,“.

This time it made itself clear in a special use application that it plans to use the facility as a church.

The World Mission church has an agreement to buy the Pocono Dome for an estimated $2.9 million.

The Hamilton Township Zoning Hearing Board will conduct a public hearing at 4:30 p.m. on June 28 at the Monroe County Safety Center in Snydersville to consider the special use application. The planning commission will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Monday and is expected to discuss the application.

The latest World Mission Society Church of God application said it intends to use the 55,760 square foot sports complex for a place of worship and for related church purposes, “including, without limitation, conducting religious services, meetings and other related religious activities of members of its congregation.”

The church said it only intends to change the use of the facility. It is not proposing to change any of the physical characteristics of the building, and plans to use a single-family dwelling on the property to house a caretaker.

The conditional use application also said the wooded nature of the property will not necessitate additional landscaping and screening to protect adjoining areas.

Among the claims in the application is one that said the proposed use, as a church, will not cause substantial injury to the value of other property where it is located.

Vocal members of the community packed township meetings this spring to protest the use of the building as a church, with concerns over traffic, property values and changing the nature of the quiet Sciota community.

Church representatives claim that the World Mission Society Church of God is a Christian organization that believes in the second coming of Christ, who restored all the teachings of the original Church of God.

Much of the church’s activities center on community volunteer work, church representative Iven Rodriguez said.

But cult expert Rick Ross, an author and the director of the Trenton, N.J. based Cult Education Institute said the church specializes in brainwashing, ruining families and separating its members from their money.

The legal owner of the Pocono Dome is Wayne Bank/WTRO Properties, which took it over for the former operator of the facility when it fell behind in its mortgage payments.

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