St. Jude Church Declared Historic by City Commission, Church Leaders Vow to Appeal

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St. Jude is now a historic site, against the wishes of its parishioners and pastor.
Consider it a coup de grâce. After suffering through 15 hours of Marc Sarnoff yesterday, members of St. Jude Melkite Church were finally put out of their misery at 3 o'clock this morning when city commissioners voted 4-0 to designate the small Brickell chapel as historic.

The vast majority of parishioners -- including the church leadership -- were actually against the designation, because they believe it will raise costs and violates the separation of church and state. But by 2:30 a.m., even they were happy to end the "absurd" marathon meeting.

"The guillotine came down 4-0 in favor of preservation," St. Jude board member Suzanne Stonbely says. "We were thrilled with this loss. Now we are free to appeal in a court of law that has rules of evidence and won't profile our architectural expert as he is not a local."

See also: St. Jude Church's Historic Preservation Could Be Worth Millions to Brickell Developers

Stonbely and other churchgoers believe the effort to declare St. Jude's a historic building is more about developers getting access to its air rights than a legitimate attempt to save it.

She believes those behind the push for preservation -- including the powerful Shomar brothers, Wasim and Shadi -- have exaggerated the church's role in Pedro Pan to garner sympathy from Miami's Cuban community.

Wasim Shomar, however, says he has no personal interest in the air rights -- potentially worth millions of dollars -- but wants to preserve a building that means much to him and his family.

In the end, commissioners sided with Shomar, a former president of Miami Dade College and CEO of large investment fund the Lynx Companies.

But the battle is far from over. St. Jude's pastor, Rev. Damon Geiger, said as much before the meeting.

"If it goes against us, I imagine the next step would be to go to the courts," he said. "And we're prepared to go all the way to the Supreme Court if need be."

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Location Info


St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church

126 SE 15th Road, Miami, FL

Category: General

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I would like to thank Dr. Wasim Shomar for his services in preserving our church, St. Jude. Thank you.

perlorenzo 1 Like

It's ironic and extremely sad that in a democracy power, greed, interests represented by a small privileged minority and hypocritical lies intertwine between powerful private forces and the elected public officials (very good but oblivious of the real problems) that should instead represent the will of the people, the majority of the parishioners and protect the rightful owner, the Church (primary importance and significance is the faith and the center of cult and worship, not a fabricated historical pedigree for a building designed and built by not certainly a Frank Lloyd Wright or a James Renwick but an obscure and local Philadelphia architect whose name nobody really knows...talking about "people not from Miami"... ) and the specific letter of the law and instead become unfortunate and mislead tools of government intervention and unnecessary bureaucratic overbearing to bring strangulation, vexation and destruction to a  small, minority community and its center of faith against and defying the will of the Church and the majority of parishioners with the excuse of "keeping it for future generations" because Madonna was there or Truman drove by or a handful of children from Pedro Pan fleeing government intervention in their lives were guest there for a few days and that under that weak pretense and excuse are today witnesses of a Governmental entity with no bearings or say on a millenarian faith administering exactly the type of forced governmental intervention they were fleeing from and becoming a superior entity to be the judge on how to celebrate your liturgy or use a place of worship ( because a Church is not only a building but the representation and the link to the faith and its community ). This is part of a much larger assault on Christianity and the mercification and commoditization of it (we heard clearly and openly the word "air rights" and also a value given to them...) cannot be and shouldn't be accepted. It is the Melkites who saved this building from certain death for decades : where were at that time these champions? Now after caring so much for it under a lot of financial stress and expenses are becoming the victims, being "robbed" of their own identity and freedom in the name of the 30 dinars embodied in "air rights" and "collective interest". Well if it is so why doesn't then the City, Miami, take upon its shoulders all of the costs and expenses - since it is for the collectivity that they supposedly are acting - to repair the Church and make the improvements necessary? Why doesn't then the City fork out the difference in insurance and building costs? It smells a lot like what our "friends" next door, 90 miles from Florida are used to say for over 50 years now..."what is mine is mine and what is yours is still mine...and you still have to pay and keep paying for it".

DrSuzanne Stonbely
DrSuzanne Stonbely 1 Like

I would like to celebrate The Miami New Times and writer Michael Miller for running their free and unbiased press in Miami!Your professionalism, dedication and expertise guarantee the freedom of the people in Miami. I would like to thank all those who came forward after reading the articles and support us in our appeal. Reform is needed as Forced Preservation is a threat that must be amended.

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