A Gastonia, North Carolina, pastor has been fined $60,000 for his outreach efforts without a city permit.
Pastor Moses Colbert of Faith, Hope and Love Community Enrichment Ministries has worked to place trailer homes on church property for homeless individuals. He’s also set up tents that house about 100 people nearby, WCCB Charlotte reports.
His ministry provides meals, counseling, education, and addiction-recovery services.
However, the City of North Carolina said Colbert ignored safety regulations and zoning laws.
Meanwhile, Colbert has said he feels like his ministry is being targeted.
He told city leaders to “stop demonizing this ministry.” He said, “It looks like you’re discriminating against me, but it’s these (unhoused) people bearing the brunt of it.”
This isn’t the first time Colbert has clashed with the City over his ministry services. Last year, he was forced to close a shelter for homeless individuals because the shelter violated fire and safety violations. City Councilman Robert Kellogg said at the time that the closure was unfortunate “because the need is so great, but we can’t put that need above the safety of individuals in the building.”
The City allowed Colbert to reopen the shelter after pushback from the community, and another organization, You Are the Power, helped Colbert buy trailers. However, placing the trailers on the church property violated zoning laws, which say the property is only zoned for a church building.
Spike Cohen, founder of You Are the Power, recently wrote in a social media post that Gastonia is trying to “steal Pastor Moses’ property and run his church and shelter out of business. All because he’s done more for the homeless community, at no expense to the taxpayer, than the City has done with millions of tax dollars.”
The City said it received complaints about trash and debris piling up on the church property. Emergency personnel has had to respond to more than 160 calls for assistance at the church since January.
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Ben White
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.