A ministry founder in Ohio says city officials have denied him a permit to hold worship services in his ministry’s building because they fear the ministry will attract more homeless people.
According to the Christian Post, Melvin Navarro and his wife Angelina, operate Joseph’s Corner Outreach and Healing Wings International Ministries in the city of Lorain, Ohio.
The Healing Wings International Ministry’s Facebook page notes that the organization works to provide “worship services and Bible studies to the community of Lorain.” Joseph’s Corner Outreach– which is a Healing Wings International Ministry – works to “focus on meeting community needs by providing a place for Morale, Welfare and Recreation for the community of Lorain,” the organization’s Facebook page says.
The ministry reportedly offers free clothes, shoes, toys, household goods and food – including hot meals – to families in need in the community.
About a year ago, the Navarros relocated the programs to their current location, 19 News reports. The ministry was able to obtain operations permit from the city’s fire chief and the Navarros hoped they would be able to obtain a permit to function as a church as well. The pair wanted to be able to host worship services in the ministry's building.
Navarro anticipated that his request for a permit to hold worship services would be approved since the building had served as a church in the past.
The request, however, was denied.
According to Navarro, Mayor Joseph Kozuira voiced concerns that the ministry would attract more homeless people to the city.
“Homelessness is a big problem in the city,” Navarro told 19 News. “They don’t want any homeless, and therefore they don’t want any more churches or charitable organizations,” Navarro asserted.
Kozuira, however, told the Christian Post on Monday that there may be more to the story. Reportedly, Kozuira believes that the city’s zoning board likely turned down Navarro’s application because the building is in poor condition.
“The building is in very bad shape and I think that’s why the zoning board did that because the building is not a real good building,” said Kozuira.
“This thing has been closed probably 30 years,” added the mayor. “… The city was looking at condemning [it]. So when he went to the board the board voted it down. I had nothing to do with that.”
A post on the Joseph’s Corner Outreach Facebook page last month stated that the ministry is currently trying to raise funds to renovate the property in order to provide housing for the homeless. “We would love to speed up the process so that we can pass inspection for Joseph's Corner and have a place set up to keep the homeless warm this winter!” they wrote.
Kozuira also noted that residents of the neighborhood where Navarro’s ministry is currently located have complained about a large population of homeless people in the area. He noted, too, that the city cannot afford more homeless people coming to Ohio from other states.
According to the Christian Post, Kozuira also told Navarro he could appeal the board’s decision to the Court of Common Pleas.
For now, Healing Wings, which is a federally recognized nonprofit organization, will continue to operate as a ministry. The Navarros hope the community will support their goal to become a recognized church.
Photo courtesy: Jonathan Kho/Unsplash, this is a stock photo.