I believe that Philadelphia claims that title…..maybe they should re-think that claim….
This country has a growing problem of homelessness and I am pleased to see at least some churches are acting in a very Christian way (more need to step up….leave politics to the sleazy people and help their fellow man)
A few churches are providing a few services for the homeless and now the city government weighs in…..
Two Philadelphia-area churches have come under fire from local zoning officials, who say their free meal services, mental health counseling, and monthly pantries aren’t allowed on their properties and will have to stop or else they risk fines.
In early June, Pottstown staff sent letters to Christ Episcopal Church and Mission First, saying that this charitable work went beyond the allowable activities for churches in the borough’s Downtown zoning district.
“I am writing this letter with compassion for those affected by the COVID pandemic and with gratitude to residents who’ve provided aid to those in need throughout that period,” wrote Pottstown Zoning Officer Winter Stokes in a letter to one of the churches obtained by WHYY, which first reported the story. “However, as the Zoning Officer, I must enforce the zoning code.”
Stokes’ letters specifically lists regular provision of mental health counseling to families, weekly buffet meals, and the distribution of soap, razors, toothbrushes, and other essential items as disallowed uses.
The two churches can either apply for a zoning variance—which requires going before the borough’s Zoning Hearing Board—or stop the disallowed charitable work. Failure to do either of those things could result in the churches being hit with $500 fines for every day they’re out of compliance.
“It was an absolute surprise when we got this letter,” says Dennis Coleman, the deacon of Christ Episcopal Church. He says that his church has been providing meals and an “essentials” pantry for years without incident.
“We’ve been doing the one meal a week for as long as anyone can remember,” which typically feeds about 60 people, Coleman says. The church also runs a “Last Week of the Month” program that provides people with food, essential items, or even assistance in paying gas and electric bills.
This is a ridiculous ordinance!
I am pleased to see that at least some churches are responding to this growing problem….they should be supported not punished.
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”