CORINTH, GEORGIA (CANADA?)
A sign in front of Corinth Baptist Church says "Welcome to Canada," which has prompted both questions and controversy for this small rural congregation. The story began almost a year ago when the church was denied a building permit by the city of Corinth to add on to the current church building for Sunday School room and office space. After a number of frustrating appeals the church finally gave up fighting the Corinth City Council and looked above for help...to Canada.
"We donated all of our land to the city of Kentville, Nova Scotia in Canada, so our church property is now Canadian soil." Said Rev. Chris Carter, the church's pastor. "We fenced in the property and posted a Canadian flag outside of our church."
When the idea was suggested by Carter and the board of deacons it was well received by congregation.
"We were sick and tired of the city council here in Corinth telling us that we couldn't build on to our property." Said Alice McAffey, a life-long member of the church. "Now, I'm proud to be a member of a Canadian church where we are free to build however we want."
Each Sunday non-regular church members who wish to visit must present a valid passport that is checked by one of the deacons on duty at the front gate of the church. Those who do not have passports cannot enter the church grounds but may listen through a remote transmitter outside of the "territory."
But despite the church's enthusiasm over their newfound identity, the legality of their claim is being challenged.
"This is totally absurd!" Said Corinth Mayor Harry Fordice. "They just can't donate American land to another country and suddenly expect it to become foreign soil. I don't know what they're thinking."
"I'm not familiar with any donation of land that's been made to us." Said Richard Sussex, Mayor of Kentville, Nova Scotia. "No one has mentioned anything to me at all, and I'm fairly certain that laws in both the United States and Canada forbid such a thing."
But, regardless of criticism, Carter and his congregation continue to refer to themselves as a "Canadian Church" and have filed for a building permit with the city of Kentville to allow them to build on to their church.
"We're going to start building as soon as we get all the paperwork in order." Said Carter.
When asked what might happen if the permit was not granted by Kentville, Carter replied, "We're already considering that. We're thinking that Ethiopia might be a good option."