Is it the joyful sounds of worship that disrupts a community?

Is it the joyful sounds of worship that disrupts a community? »Play Video
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Is it the joyful sounds of worship or noise that disrupts a community? That's the question every single Sunday morning. At issue? If church music can be regulated under noise laws. One local dentist thinks it should be, but church members said their religious rights are at stake.

Who would've thought such a joyful sound would lead to this? A dispute between two neighbors in Sunnyside.

"It was loud enough that the speakers were vibrating," said Jim Stevens.

Jim Stevens operates his dental office right next to the Sunnyside United Methodist Church. For months, Jim complained about the loud music coming from Sunday worship service.

"This is a violation of the noise ordinance,” said Jim. “This is a violation of our space. This is a violation of our business, the tranquility of the neighbors back here."

City ordinance in Sunnyside states noise can't be heard more than 50 feet away. The church was issued a $1,000 fine by Sunnyside Police.

But ask members of the church and they'll tell you they're standing by their first amendment rights.

"It was a chance to stand up and say how religious freedom is important," said Sunnyside United Methodist Church Pastor Pat Beeman.

"We were surprised our neighbor would be complaining about the loudness of the music," said El Gran Rey Jesus Congregation leader RosaLinda Vazquez.

The church group has moved their services from the sanctuary over to the church gym. KIMA checked to see how far away the music could be heard from outside the church. Music can still be heard right outside the service. But music couldn't be heard halfway across the building.

Sunnyside city council member Jason Raines said the dispute isn't good for the community.

"I don't see it being a thing that causes a division in the community but I don't see it helping," said Jason.

Some members of the congregation believed there was an issue beyond the noise. When KIMA asked Jim if there was any discrimination, this was his response.

"Skin color has never been an issue in this neighborhood ever or with us,” said Jim. “We grew up here."

Both parties have said the issue has been resolved and hope it stays that way. The ticket cited against the church for unnecessary noise was dismissed.