THE BRONX - A federal court has rejected the city's appeal to ban churches from renting space for worship in public schools while a judge decides how to rule on the issue.

A federal judge said Wednesday that the Bronx Household of Faith, which first brought the issue into light, is likely to win its first amendment challenge and that it will be harmful to deny the congregation from P.S. 15.

An appellate court is also urging Judge Loretta Preska to make a final decision by mid-June, ahead of the new school year.

City churches had been given the green light last week to return to public schools for services despite disapproval from the Department of Education (DOE), which argues that it blurs the separation of church and state.