Public Comments about UBF

Today I came across a rare public document that captures UBF leaders interacting with public officials. UBF people are used to operating in a power hierarchy. They know how to obey orders and how to give orders. They are used to being respected for their position and authority. They are used to speaking about the Bible and quoting Scripture. And they are used to getting their way, doing what they want, all in the name of honoring God. But how do they interact with the public?

On February 9th, 2012, there was a public commission meeting in a Chicago suburb regarding the DuPage UBF use of a residential house in the Village of Glen Ellyn. The public attendance was rather large. This was a continuation of earlier meetings, and the end result of a year-long process.

The quotes from the public neighbors of DuPage UBF are a snapshot of how UBF has operated in America since 1977 when the first UBF Korean missionaries came to America.

Here are some facts:

  • 13 neighbors of the UBF center raised issues at the hearing
  • 35 neighbors of the UBF center were in attendance
  • All 9 commissioners voted against granting the special-use permit

Here are some quotes from neighbors at the meeting:

Authorities had been notified in 1998

“Ms. Abaravich stated that when the subject church first moved into her neighborhood, she called the Village of Glen Ellyn to ask how a house can become a church. She stated she was told to call the police, and the police told her that the church can do whatever it wants to do. She added that she disagreed with the statement that no one had previously mentioned that a church was in the neighborhood.”

Sidewalks covered with cars

“Ms. Traynor stated that she supports people gathering in their home to study the Bible. She added, however, that she has some safety concerns regarding parking at the subject site and that the sidewalk has been covered by cars on recent Sundays.”

Documented concerns had already been sent

“[Ms. Micklo] read a letter dated January 3, 2012 for the public record that had been sent from Nancy Barbeau of 571 Dawes to the Glen Ellyn Plan Commission. Ms. Micklo stated that Ms. Barbeau has lived on Dawes since 1960. Ms. Micklo stated that the letter contained Ms. Barbeau’s objections to the subject house becoming a church as parking and traffic problems will occur and the tax base will be affected.”

How could they not know?

“Mr. Yurcus stated his family was totally devastated to learn a church was operating in the neighborhood. Mr. Yurcus stated he is an ordained minister and permanent deacon at St. Petronille Church in Glen Ellyn, a teacher and music director at St. James Church and the founder and member of the Glen Ellyn Ministerial Group. Mr. Yurcus stated he finds it hard to believe that UBF was unaware of zoning regulations.”


“Mr. Yurcus stated he was shocked that the Village was unaware that a church located at the subject site had not paid taxes in 12 years and he also expressed concern regarding precedence. He also suggested that UBF rent space in another church or a storefront in town and added that UBF is not the right fit for this neighborhood.”

Why does the pastor not speak?

“Mr. Yurkus asked why the paid pastor of the church is not speaking on behalf of the petition and why Mr. Hajek has the authority to speak. Mr. Hajek responded that he has been an understudy/assistant of the pastor for 10 years and was asked to speak at the Plan Commission meetings because he speaks publicly in his career and lived in the subject house for several years.”

Parking/safety concerns for children

“Ms. Robinson felt that the depth of the subject driveway is not sufficient to support the four cars parked there by the petitioner and is a safety concern for children. She also expressed concern regarding cars parking on Parkside as that street is narrow and parking is allowed on both sides of the street. Ms. Robinson also expressed a concern regarding strangers in the neighborhood who attend the subject church as there are many children in the neighborhood.”

Disregard for parking regulations

“Mr. Adamczyk stated that his biggest concern is traffic and that the neighborhood is impacted by the petitioners 2-3 times per week and 52 weeks per year with 7 to 10 cars at the site. Mr. Adamczyk stated that the intersection is uncontrolled and cars parked on both sides of Parkside create a one-way street. He also stated that bottlenecks and blind spots are created in that area. Mr. Adamczyk displayed two photographs of the subject site with four cars in the driveway blocking the sidewalk. He stated that photographs on the church’s website show 30 people on the subject property and information stating that a 4-day Bible conference will be held at the site in August.”

Claim of ignorance

“[Ms. Johnson] began by stating that she has nothing against the church or its members. She responded to issues from the previous meeting that the church was ignorant of the Village’s zoning laws and that the church typically goes into neighborhoods and buys single family residences/condos which they use to operate as churches. Ms. Johnson stated she found it difficult to believe that this is the first time the subject issue has come up for the church. She stated that when purchasing a home, documents are present, one of which states who will be living in the property as a permanent resident, which the church is not doing at the subject property. She also stated that a member of the church was living in the home and not paying taxes because the church owned the property.”

Safety concerns for children

“[Ms.Bauerle] lives kitty-corner from the subject church. She stated that she has a child with special needs and had searched for a home within a good school district in a family focused community. Ms. Bauerle stated she saw 13 cars at the subject home last weekend and stated she believes the church will grow. She stated she does not let her 12-year-old son go outdoors on Sunday because of the amount of traffic at the subject site. Ms. Bauerle stated that the community cannot support the needs for a church that will grow because there is not adequate parking and it is not fair to the residents who pay taxes. She also expressed concern regarding several years of taxes that have not been paid by the petitioner for a residential home.”

No effort since last hearing

“[Ms. Nachman] stated that since the previous meeting, the church has made no efforts regarding parking issues at the subject site. Ms. Nachman stated that cars at the subject house continue to be parked across the sidewalk which is one of the biggest concerns of the neighbors. She added that the church representatives could have taken care of some issues regarding the subject site since the previous meeting.”

Contradiction of information

“[Mr. Krebs] spoke at the previous meeting and stated at this meeting that there have been more people, more cars and more occasions at the subject house. Mr. Krebs added that the answers that were provided directly contradict information in the special use application, narrative and application for variation. He added that the current use of the property is not consistent with residential usage and leads to traffic interference on the streets, alters the essential character of the neighborhood, could be detrimental to public welfare, and could be a hazard or disturbing to future use.”



2 thoughts on “Public Comments about UBF

  1. This reminds me of the controversies around the old UBF center in Heidelberg, Germany, in the first floor of a multi-storied house in the city in the early 1990s. The other apartments were inhabited by mostly elderly people. They were often annoyed because UBF members started to enter the building at 5:30am, slamming the house door, parking their bikes everywhere on the sidewalk, having Bible studies and singing practices during the day, cooking Kimchee, meetings in the evenings, and then again singing practice, worship service with a lot of music and meetings the whole Sunday.

    Since the house had very thin walls with no sound insulation it really must have not been very pleasent for its inhabitants. The Korean missionaries also often didn’t react or respond to requests to shut the door in a less noisy way because they didn’t understand the German or because they just chose to ignore them. This didn’t make them much friends either.

    UBF’s solution was to collect more offering money and then buy the whole appartment so they couldn’t be thrown out so easily. Even though they later moved to a larger center, they still own that appartment and now rent it to UBF members (I have also lived in that appartment in “common life” and paid rent even though I had contributed offering to buy the appartment before – a typical pattern in UBF).

    I remember one day when there was an owners’ meeting of that building because of the problems. The “Abraham of faith” and I were sent to appease the attendants by the chapter leader, who chose to not appear himself though he was the responsible person. And I also remember how the Abraham of faith equipped me with the verse Luke 19:34 “They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.'”, surely he had been told that from the chapter leader before.

    The whole attitude was that the inhabitants were just interfering obstacles inimical to God who needed to be overcome by faith and with boldness. UBF believes to do God’s work and therefore, since the end justifies the means, are allowed to do everything “by faith.” This was a very general principle in UBF that has often been abused, and made members very arrogant and inconsiderate or ruthless against other people.

  2. Loud noises at 5:30 am… wow that brings back memories. I still have nightmares from time to time of the loud, heart-stopping pounding I used to hear 7 days a week when I lived in the UBF center building. People coming to pray in the morning refused to get a key to the center because I and the others living at the center should be trained to get up and let them in. I even bought a key to give to one of the people coming to pray, but still they pounded unceasingly. This was no polite knocking, but rapid, fist-pounding on the center door, which was downstairs.

    Anyway, I think you just nailed the whole of UBF teaching: “the Lord needs it”. That verse has been WAY extended to cover a multitude of abuses. I have heard that verse applied to marriage, to lawnmowers, to power tools, to food, to cars, etc.

    I remember numerous times when UBF shepherds would need a lawnmower or tools or something. They would just come and take it from other UBF members, saying “The Lord needs it.” And since we were supposed to be a “leader”, we were just supposed to let them. That didn’t happen much to me though because I learned to keep my stuff hidden.