March 3, 1974: NEWTOWN COUPLE SELL HOME TO SERVE LORDSHIP MISSION: A Newtown couple have sold their home to become active in the Lordship Christian center which is being established on Washington Parkway in Stratford. The couple are Mr. and Mrs. Paul Ort of Bonnie Brae drive who plan to move to Stratford in June in order to work closely at the new mission center which will be located in a recently purchased 16 - room motel at the water's edge in Lordship. Mr. Ort is an expert in the computer field and as of Friday he severed his connections with his firm to become a consultant. He will work half of each day on his business affairs and the other half for the Lordship Christian center. Another couple, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Fortscher of Pound Ridge, N. Y. have also put their home up for sale in order to be able to move to the Stratford area and devote more of their time to this ministry. Mr. and Mrs. Ort established The Well a meeting place for young people in Newtown which has been very successful. "The Well" is open Friday evenings in the Veterans of Foreign Wars building. The upstairs section is devoted to rap sessions and music and other groups meet downstairs for counseling and scriptural discussions. The Rev. W. Roy Bulkley, recently resigned his post as pastor of the Westminister Presbyterian church in Bridgeport to begin the ministry of the Lordship Christian center. This decision is said to have resulted after much prayer and conversations with the Rev. Frank McGrath of St. Augustine's cathedral and the Rev. Joseph Gatto of St. John's Episcopal church, both of Bridgeport. The participants plan to open a non - denominational Christian center to make available to the Christians of New England the teaching and ministry of qualified men such as Dr. Derek Prince, the Rev. Robert Mumford, the Rev. Charles Simpson, the Rev. Don Basham, an evangelical author, the Rev. Malcolm Smith, the Rev. John W. Duke and others. The Lordship Christian Center has now issued its organization charter, parts of which include the purpose of this work, which is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ through teaching, counseling, comfort and nurturing, as well as personal and corporate fellowship resulting in the healing of the total individual. The supervision of the ministry of the Center and associated ministries under its care, will be the responsibility of a minimum of five elders. The supervision of all real property, personal and financial management of the Center will be the responsibility of a minimum of four administrators who also may be on the Board of Elders. The four officers who will constitute the administrative board will be the executive director, assistant director, treasurer and secretary. The membership of the various boards is composed of the Rev. Bulkley, Mr. Forstcher, Nicholas Kosma, Mr. Ort, Raymond Pennoyer, James Stimson, Fernando Tabak and Everett Wehmeyer.
March 21, 1974: CLERGYMAN DISCLAIMS PROPOSED CENTER USE IN LORDSHIP AS SITE FOR DRUG COUNSELING: More than 350 Stratford residents were told that the Lordship center was never intended, nor ever will be used for a drug counseling or an outreach center during last night's public hearing conducted by the Stratford Planning and Zoning commission. The Reverend W. Roy Bulkley, the spiritual director of the proposed center, made a statement during a presentation of an application for a special case to permit the present Marnicks Motel and restaurant at 10 Washington Parkway to be converted into a religious retreat center. Following a one and a half hour hearing during which 10 speakers appeared on behalf of the petition and 19 spoke against it, the commission tabled the petition and action is not expected until a closed door meeting on March 25. Due to the size of the crowd, Fire Chief Hans Lundgren ordered that the meeting be moved from town hall council chambers to the Stratford High School auditorium. During his presentation, Reverend Mr. Bulkley said that a great deal of misapprehension had been caused by reports, which he said were taken out of context, that indicated that the group had considered conducting a drug treatment center at the site. The proposed Christian center will never be used for drug counseling or as an outreach center, the Reverend Mr. Bulkley stated for the record. He went on to explain that his statement that support for a drug center "will be provided as the needs arise and means become available" was referring to spiritual and possibly financial support for a drug unit located at another site. The Rev. Mr. Bulkley emphasized that only two uses are planned for the current facility: one would he a Christian training conference center which would primarily be used for retreats and the other, a Christian book and gift shop for the distribution of teaching and counseling publications. Under questioning from board member Paul Corvino, Paul Blowie, a Bridgeport lawyer who represented the Lordship Community center, said that he had not checked whether the commercial book and gift store was permitted under Stratford's zoning regulations. The center's petition for a special case only requested that a retreat center be permitted and made no mention of waivers for other types of commercial usage. The Rev. Mr. Bulkley explained that two major objectives of his center would be an extended outreach teaching team which would function at churches throughout New England as requested and the establishment of Christian-centered foster homes for the deprived and elderly which would work through private homes and not be centered at the Washington Parkway site. Paul Ort of Newtown, the chairman of the board of the center, said the main purpose of the center would be for administrative uses and "as a meeting place on Friday nights for those who feel it necessary to exemplify their Christian faith." He said that these meetings are already being conducted at Marnick's. Mr. Ort said that there would be no real change in the operating manner at the facility in the near future nor were any physical changes planned. The board chairman added that the group had no intention of either setting up a church in the area or seeking converts since this movement is non-denominational. Several area residents spoke in favor of the plan, including Catherine Brown of Riverdale Drive, who argued that the Lordship residents were moved by 'exaggerated fears' and that the residents should not "censure the Lordship Christian center by refusing it its right to buy and use property. Several others said that the religious experience to be gained from the center would be good for the area and benefit the families living in Lordship. Commission Chairman Daniel Piroscafo read a petition which had been presented before the hearing with over 400 signatures of Stratford residents who were opposed to the application. Theresa Carrano of Second Avenue, who was one of the principal circulators of the petition, stated that she was opposed to the conversion of Marnick's because of the indefinite nature of the Rev. Mr. Bulkley's plans as well as the traffic problems that it might generate. Her objections were seconded by Councilman John McGrath, Democrat from the First district, who stated that the most important consideration in a planning and zoning application is the land use and that the Lordship Christian center had not clearly spelled out its plans for the present or future, and therefore urged denial of the application. Ruth Buynovsky of Ocean Avenue, another leader in the petition drive, asked that the commission members not be "swayed by the smooth talkers from the center" and asked why the town would remove an establishment from the tax rolls which now pays $27,000 per year if the center plans to conduct a similar business. She noted that recent publication of the Disciple, a bimonthly Christian newsletter, had stated in an article about the center that plans for expansion were already being made and the group was considering using the nearby roller skating rink for assemblies which would draw between 1,000 and 2,000 persons. Mrs. Buynovsky stressed that the area already has traffic congestion during the summer months. The Lordship resident also questioned the financing for the building which would be purchased for a reported $250,000. Under questioning from Mr. Piroscafo, the Rev. Mr. Bulkley said that the group had no formal funding but that money has been obtained from some private sources. He added that the center would be supported by people who would be attracted to "a Christian motel where peace and tranquility prevail" and would also continue to be run as a commercial venture as it currently is. Income would also be derived from the book shop and gift store which would be located in some of the present motel rooms as well from the restaurant which would continue to be open to the general public. He said that the outreach teaching teams would generate sufficient funds to support themselves from contributions received from churches where they function. Dr. Andrew Owens of Ocean Avenue challenged the concept of using the center for administrative uses noting that there was certainly sufficient office space available within the town to meet the needs. Robert Sammis of Margherita Lawn said that there was no need for a tax exempt status for the unit if it is going to provide the same service as Marnick's. He added that during a recent meeting between representatives of the center and the Lordship residents, it was stated by the director of the Bridgeport Council of Churches that the center would be a duplication of its efforts but that it would not be in competition. Edward Hargus of Curtis Avenue said that the question came down to a matter of conforming to zoning uses and the center would not fit into the residential nature of Lordship. One resident said that this petition was another example of outsiders assaulting Lordship. Joseph Russo said that he has lived there for about 60 years and fought off attempted expansion at the airport, additional traffic generated by Avco and many others. He urged that that the commissioners look at the commercial aspects of the petition and not "buy a carpetbag full of tricks.
March 10, 1975: ZONING HEARING IS SCHEDULED ON CHRISTIAN CENTER PLAN: The Planning and Zoning commission will hear a petition for a special case to permit the Lordship Christian center to convert the Blue Bird Book store at 707 Stratford, road for religious use when it conducts a public hearing on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the courtroom at the Police Court building, 900 Longbrook Avenue. John Edwards, the owner of the retail book store, is seeking permission to allow the Lordship Christian group to use the facility for religious and charitable purposes. Last year the Christian center attempted to convert Marnick's restaurant on Beach drive to a religious retreat center but the petition was denied.
October 12, 1976 - CHURCH SUBMITS STRATFORD BID: The Lordship Christian center has re-submitted an application to the Stratford Planning and Zoning commission to locate a church and residence on the former site of the Blue Bird Book shop at 707 Lordship Road, Stratford, which will be presented at a public hearing tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in Stratford Town Hall. The Rev. Roy Bulkley has submitted the application for a special case in order to live and conduct workshop services at the site. The commission, in August, denied a request by the religious group to operate a bookstore in this building and last year denied a similar application to have a church there. The Lordship Christian group has also had petitions denied to create a religious center at Marnick's restaurant and hotel complex.
September 22, 1977 - UNIT DELAYS CONSIDERATION OF GREAT NECK SCHOOL LEASE: The Stratford Town Council last night delayed consideration of an offer by the Lordship Christian center to lease the vacant Great Neck elementary school on Lighthouse avenue, Lordship, until a meeting between the Council and the Stratford Board of Education could be arranged to discuss the entire Lordship-Great Neck school situation, including the possibility of reopening Great Neck as a school. A date for the joint meeting will be set by the Board of Education at its meeting Monday night. The Rev. Roy Bulkley, head of the Lordship Christian center, now based in his home at 707 Stratford Road, told the councilmen of his plan to use Great Neck for Sunday worship services, fellowship meetings, Bible classes, and offices. Two offers from the center one for a lease and another for a rental with the option to purchase the school were presented in executive session, along with the value Tax Assessor T. Emmett Murray has placed on the property. Councilman Robert Frankel, Democrat of the First district, said it would be, "inappropriate to enter into a lease with anybody without resolving the original question," of the consolidation of Lordship and Great Neck schools. Great Neck was closed by the Board of Education in June and its 99 pupils sent to Lordship School, a short distance away on Crown Street. The board, when returning the school to the Town Council, asked that the school not be sold for about 10 years in case population trends shift and Great Neck would again be needed for a school. The Council's School Building Needs committee authorized a feasibility study for renovations to Lordship school, which was delivered by Antinozzi Associates architects last week with a $937,250 value for demolition of one part of the building and construction of a new addition. Some board members this week criticized the undertaking of the study for Lordship School, saying that it was not the top priority on the board capital improvement plan. Councilman Frankel noted that the consolidation of the two schools was prompted by a decline in population and a desire to save money for the Town. Now he said, the Town is faced with the cost of renovating Lordship school, and there was a question of whether consolidation should continue or if Great Neck should be reopened. Councilman August Palmer, Republican of the Seventh district, agreed that the Council should meet with the board before any commitment was made. Councilman Palmer said the school administrators and board representatives to the School Building Needs committee had "sat through the meetings, and nobody said anything about the feasibility study. It seems they don't have their act together," he said. Town Manager Bern Ewert suggested that a lease arrangement be worked out with the Christian center until August which would allow the school to be reopened if necessary, as well as giving the Town rental income and removing the burden of maintenance through the winter months. The Rev. Mr. Bulkley said no renovations would be made to the school should it be leased by the Christian center, and there would be no residential use of the building. He said the parking area would accommodate the center's current fellowship without harming the neighborhood. About half of the church members are from Stratford and the other half from surrounding towns, he said.