Diocese sues Oregon, New ordinance restricting church’s charity ministry

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St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church and Episcopal Diocese of Oregon, has sued Oregon City for passing an ordinance that according to them, violates their right to charity and free religious expression as contained in the constitution.

The new local ordinance in Oregon city, says that the church can only give out free food twice a week.

We’ve been serving our community here for decades, and picking up the slack where the need exists and no one else is stepping in, says Rev. Bernie Lindley.

We have no intention of stopping now and we’re prepared to hold fast to our beliefs. We won’t abandon the people of Brookings who need our help even when we’re being threatened, “he finished.

Brookings is a town of about 6,700 residents in the far southwestern corner of Oregon. For sometime now, St. Timothy had been working with other churches, making sure locals have free food to eat through the week. Along the way, some churches suspended their charity on meals, the pandemic being a contributory factor to that decision. St. Timothy was now standing all alone. It was at this time that St. Timothy increased its homeless meal service to six days in a week, serving up to 70 people per lunchtime.

Everything seemed to be going well until Oregon Public Broadcasting, reported the complaints of the residents near St. Timothy, which included trespassing, littering and noise in their neighbourhood. The residents had therefore sent a petition to the city, asking for the church’s homeless meal services to be brought to a halt.

And now, an ordinance has been passed, restricting the church’s meal service to twice a week.

This new ordinance does not go down well with the Episcopal Church, hence the suing of the City Council.

The City Council in its defense says that, “There is nobody on this council that has made an attack on St. Timothy whatsoever. It’s not because we’re all wicked. It’s because we’re meeting needs [to serve] a dual purpose.”

“…we are looking to strive an equilibrium.”

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