Lowcountry church changing policy after service dog controversy

Local News

BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) – A legally blind man says he was denied access to a Lowcountry church. Now, that church is apologizing and changing policy.

Taylor Burch wanted to worship at the Lowcountry Community Church last weekend in Bluffton but was told that he couldn’t come in because of his service dog.

He said it was “embarrassing and frustrating” because he’s brought Indy into several other churches before, as well as concerts and other areas with loud noises and music.

Pastor Jeff Cranston tells News 3 the church did what was necessary by Americans with Disabilities Act law. The church says they have gone over the policy with attornies and staff several times over the years.

The belief is by law, if one animal was let in, even a service dog, then all animals would have to be allowed into the sanctuary. That’s even if they were not trained.

That would potentially put the church in a difficult position and affect their services and other parishioners, for example, who have severe allergies.

But Pastor Cranston says Burch’s situation shed new light on the church and the policies.

He apologized for what happened to Burch and said it has made the church rethink the way they deal with service animals.

“We’ve reached out to him,” said the pastor. “I have apologized to him via email. Don’t want to ever have anyone come here who feels like there is a barrier for them to come here. We are going through everything to make it right and remove any barrier. We want to be, and we are, a welcoming church.”

Cranston says that “open door” policy will be changed immediately. The church will accept service animals and their owners starting this weekend.

The pastor hopes Burch will reconsider and come back to the church. He has an open invitation, according to Cranston.

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