Founder says future of church uncertain

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According to neighbors, all was quiet at 4500 Turner Valley Road in North Huntingdon Saturday night.

The Rev. John Ondrik canceled his Church of Spiritual Humanism's usual Saturday midnight service -- in the wake of allegations that a sex club was operating there.

Attorney Sam S. Pangborn, who represents Rev. Ondrik and his wife, Kim, confirmed that the service had been canceled, apparently on his advice.

"Rev. Ondrik expressed concerns that television news crews would be around and identities of parishioners could be exposed."

The lack of activity at the house the Ondriks are lease-purchasing from owners John H. Walkmeyer Jr. and his wife, Carol, spawned speculation the church had closed its doors,

"Rev. Ondrik said no decision regarding the future of the church has been made," Mr. Pangborn said. "My client will have no further comment pending a decision by the township zoning board on Oct. 14.

"The Ondriks do not actually reside at the North Huntingdon address due to sewage problems not presently corrected by the owner, Jack Walkmeyer. So it's not unusual when they're not around the house," he said.

The Ondriks live in Fredericktown, Washington County.

Acting on information contained in a Web site that Swinger's Palace allegedly was operating at the same address, township officials cited Mr. Walkmeyer for operating a business in a residential area, a violation of an ordinance.

The Ondriks are seeking a special zoning exception, which would allow them to operate a church in the two-story house they lease in a R-4 residential district overlooking the Youghiogheny River.

During a four-hour public hearing on the application last week, residents and township commissioners strongly opposed the granting of the variance.

Solicitor John M. Campfield will write the board's conclusion following a review of all sworn testimony from the hearing.

The board will publish its decision at the Oct. 14 meeting.

At the hearing, Rev. Ondrik vehemently denied allegations that Swinger's Palace was a sex club disguised as a church.

"We are not operating a sex club," he said afterward. "I don't know where people are getting that stuff," he said.

The Walkmeyers were cited for debris on the property and for failure to connect to the township's sanitary sewer system. They have cleaned up the property and initiated the process to tap into the sewer system.

Norm Vargo is a freelance writer.


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