Coronado could remove church directory sign

UPDATE: On Thursday, February 15 The Mayor of Coronado posted to Facebook to address the issue. In the post, Mayor Richard Bailey wrote: 

"Hi Everyone – There has been a great deal of discussion and speculation on the topic of the Church Directory located at Spreckels Park, so I wanted to provide a bit more context for everyone.

To avoid potential First Amendment legal challenges and, in the interest of the efficient use of public resources, the City is in the process of updating the directory signs on Third Street and Orange Avenue and at Sixth Street and Orange Avenue.

The City will remove the directory at Sixth and Orange Avenue in Spreckels Park as a part of the project.

The Coronado Council of Churches is aware this is occurring, and they support the City’s efforts.

This redesign effort will ensure our signage is informative and representative by incorporating our community’s civic, social, faith-based and philanthropic organizations.

I understand this is a sensitive topic, however, a new directory/signage will be reinstalled after this project is complete and it will be inclusive of all organizations, including our faith-based ones."

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CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) -- The Resurrection Lutheran Church stands at the corner of fifth and orange on Coronado's main drag.

The location is clearly marked on a sign at the entrance to Spreckels Park - one block over.

"We're right here on the main thoroughfare, so people know where we are," said Pastor Brian Oltman, of Resurrection Lutheran Church.
    
But not every church in Coronado is as easy to find. That's why he says this sign serves a key purpose - because it lists nine other churches on the island.

"To know the resources in the community, whether it be lutheran, presbyterian, catholic, baptist, any of the traditions that are around, it's good to have a centerplace," Oltman said. 
    
Now, word is quietly spreading that the city may remove the sign Friday. But most people, including Oltman, hadn't heard.

After all, it wasn't on the recent city council agenda. Numerous city officials didn't immediately return calls. And City Manager Blair King wasn't available at City Hall.  

But Resurrection Lutheran's administrator, Vicki, called people in the know - and seemed to get to the bottom of it.

"It has something to do with separation of church and state, and the city limiting its liability," she said. 

In other words, the city's concerned placing a church directory in a public park can give the appearance of favoring one religion over another

"I do understand the concept of separating certain things, church and state, but there is overlap. That's a resource," Oltman said. 

Oltman says he'd be glad to see other religious organizations added to the sign. An online search shows Coronado has more than 10 churches, and one orthodox Jewish synagogue. 

If the sign does have to be moved, Oltman's got a highly visible spot in mind, on private land: The front of Resurrection Lutheran. 

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