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.
Pennsylvania Town Threatens Churches With $500 Fines for Providing Free Meals, Counseling Services
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”
11 thoughts on “The City Of ‘Brotherly Love’”
This sounds like it was provoked by disgruntled locals who don’t want the homeless hanging around where they live. NIMBY, ‘Not in my back yard’. Perhaps some rich Christians can step forward, allow the church to continue, and pay the fines?
(I know, that’s not going to happen. Christianity begins at home, as far as most ‘Christians’ are concerned. )
Best wishes, Pete.
Glad to see the Christo-fascists are not in total control. chuq
I am sure it is like most of the other cities in “Christian America” …preach the Love of God all you want to but don’t do anything that will attract “Low Class Riff Raff” to our lily-white neighborhoods 0r face the wrath of the zoning boards. Pure examples of Hippocrates in high places. Typically “American” in this day and age of say one thing and do another …nothing to see here … moving on.
We should not move on…..it is a growing problem that pretend does not exist…homelessness that is…..chuq
There will always be a homeless problem until the right wing fascists take over the government and after that the homeless will be sweeping forest floors, building bridges and highways, cleaning up trash off the sides of roads or festering away in some internment camp in one of our deserts or on some remote island in the Pacific.
Until then we should not give up the fight to help them…..chuq
Pottstown is 40 miles from Philadelphia – just saying…
Close enough….LOL chuq
Well.. for me a couple things with this…
As a matter of note, our church had been doing the once-a-month food thing for nearly 20 years. This year it had to be terminated because of Covid, the issues surrounding the effects of the pandemic, rising food costs, and lagging donations, and few homeless showing up, killed it.
My own is regarding food to the homeless has to do with my own proclivities to prefer to solve problems rather than only treat the symptoms. I much prefer to help a person get to the point of helping themselves. Pretty much the old proverb…
“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
I somehow find it a bit of seasonal hypocrisy to feed the homeless holiday meals once, twice a year.. then forget about them the rest of the year. I tend to see things as problems to solve. Like abortion… no one likes it or even wants it.. so to solve the problem is not in sending them off to jail but addressing the reasons why one might get into a situation to want one in the first place. But few data collection occurs to measure that.
Regardless, the homeless thing is a mental health issue and it’s tough to address that.. and tossing them a few meals clears the guilt for some.
As for that public servant enforcing the zoning laws…. he completely missed an opportunity to look good and help people. It may be true that his job as a public servant is in fact to enforce zoning laws. He would have gotten huge miles.. and lots of help, if his approach would have been to show some community empathy, meet with the churches, explain the situation.. then act as a facilitator to bring everyone together to work out a solution that would be a win-win… rather than looking like a bureaucratic schmuck and make ultimatums… justified or not. The clown could have turned it into a public crusade and even advance his own electoral career. What an idiot.
Everyone hates the idea of homelessness but few do anything…..typical American thinking…..another missed opportunity…..chuq
It’s about finding a solution to a problem.
History has shown us more than once: that being blind for the suffering of others, instead of following your conscience to make right out of wrong.