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admin 14.12.2013

The Plaza Theatre in Maplewood is one of the most beloved places in the community to check out an inexpensive movie. I sat down with Senior Pastor Greg Boyd and Communications Pastor Charley Swanson to talk over the church’s future with the 46 year-old movie theatre. The church has owned both the theatre and the huge building they currently occupy (formerly a Builder’s Square) since 2000. At the beginning of their business relationship in the early 2000′s, Block was chugging along managing the theatre while the church was busy at work revamping their then big empty building. With Woodland Hills soon to be managing the Plaza, they want to express they fully intend to keep everything running the same. Many are grieving for Block, and unfortunately so many have gone on the offensive, attacking the church and making accusations of greed and evil doing. I stumbled across this New York Times story about a church in Maplewood, Minnesota, which lost a lot of congregants due to its pastor’s teachings (WebCite cached article).
I wrote a piece a few weeks back discussing how the Plaza would be changing, as current theatre manager Nathan Block would not be continuing his oversight of the local icon. A lease by definition is a temporary contract — and Block and his group have always known that.
As the movie industry continues to push digital, celluloid films become less and less available. It’s unfortunate Block is losing something he loves so much, but the church intends to make every effort to keep the same spirit and experience for visitors of the Plaza.

That clearly is not the case — this is simply a tenant moving out, and the owner taking over. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show.
Boyd for holding his ground in the face of overwhelming dominionist and theocratic pressure to make Christian churches into a collective government of the US.
Swanson and Boyd talked of using the space for overflow of church functions — despite their enormous building, Woodland Hills sees about 2,500 people for weekend services. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr.
He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public. Jesus was also apolitical … to an extent that some in his audiences were bothered by it.
The hatred and dislike for the church is one of the reasons Swanson contacted us — he wanted to clearly state that the church has no nefarious agenda here.

As far as the current employees, they can all inquire about keeping their jobs if they want. The church was faced with a tough decision, but ultimately decided it was best for Block to not invest more of his time and money when they did not see a future with him.
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After the decision to not grant Block a ten year lease, he then asked to get out of the three year lease negotiated in 2012.
Paul — packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals — was passionate. So the end of Block’s tenure at the theatre came earlier than expected based on his own choice to not continue in his three year lease.
The church does expect a transition period of a week or two, meaning it will not be open for business, but Swanson believes the Plaza should be up and running in early November. Even while combating the negative publicity against Woodland Hills, Boyd and the church hope people will slowly start to come back.

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