Getting the Word out, for a Price: Churches Leasing Steeples and Land

Article excerpt

Toronto

With both of them in the same business of getting the word out, some Canadian churches and cellular phone companies are entering into agreements where churches lease their steeples and land for communications transmitters.

Toronto's Church of the Messiah has just signed its second three-year lease with Bell Mobility, under the terms of which two small transmitters were attached to one of its towers. Approached three years ago by the phone company, Rev. Andrew Sheldon says the parish negotiated its fee -- "they gave us a figure, then we gave them a figure, then they gave us another figure ... " But that doesn't mean the incumbent and altar servers are packing Bell flip phones.

"I have a cell phone, but it's -- the competition. They offered us a deal on phones, but it still couldn't beat the deal I already had," said Mr. Sheldon.

Similarly, St. Luke's Church, Victoria, in the Diocese of British Columbia, was contacted by a phone company about 18 months ago. That company, Microcell, offered St. Luke's $6,000 a year to erect a post at the edge of its cemetery, a more suitable spot than the church, which is down a hill.

The only concern parishioners had was the possibility of harmful radiation from the transmitter. They contacted the government and others and were told the cellular transmitters emitted no more radiation than a television.

The deal fell through after some bureaucratic entanglements -- including consultations with the parish, diocese and municipality, which had concerns about right-of-way -- and personnel changes at the phone company. …

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