Pastor Moses Colbert of Gastonia, North Carolina, is in the news after it was discovered that his outreach activities were carried out without the required city permissions. He faces a fine of $60,000. The pastor oversees the Faith, Hope, and Love Community Enrichment Ministries and has been housing the homeless in neighboring tents and trailer homes on church grounds.
The supportive services provided by Colbert's ministry include meals, counseling, education, and programs for recovering from addiction. The pastor's outreach initiatives, according to the City of Gastonia, are in violation of safety and zoning requirements.
Pastor Fined $60,000 Over City Permit Violations in Homeless Outreach
According to the article in Christian Headlines, the preacher begs city officials to stop disparaging his work and asserts that his ministry is being unfairly singled out for criticism. He claims that claims of discrimination are hurting the homeless people they are trying to assist. The pastor has already had to close a homeless shelter for not meeting fire and safety regulations, so this is not their first run-in with the law. Robert Kellogg of the City Council acknowledged the importance of the shelter but highlighted that public safety could not be sacrificed in order to address those requirements.
The City agreed to let Colbert reopen the shelter after complaints from the locals. According to the article in Church Leaders, Colbert received help from You Are the Power, another nonprofit, in order to purchase trailers for the homeless. But by putting these trailers on the church land, the zoning regulations—which state that the property is only zoned for a church building—were also broken.
Spike Cohen, the company's founder, recently expressed his support for Pastor Colbert on social media. He claimed that the City of Gastonia was trying to "steal Pastor Moses' property and run his church and shelter out of business" due to the fact that the pastor's non-taxpayer-funded initiatives had had a greater positive impact on the area's homeless population than the City's multimillion-dollar tax-funded programs.
Gastonia Homeless Cry Out as Ministries Face Closure Over Permit Violations
Some of Gastonia's most vulnerable citizens made fervent appeals before the city council following a $60,000 punishment for Pastor Moses Colbert's homeless outreach programs, warning of the terrible implications of the Faith, Hope and Love Community Enrichment Ministries being forced to close.
When speaking before the council, many individuals who had received comfort and support through the ministries sobbed openly as they said that the closing would leave them with nowhere else to turn.
One gentleman voiced concern about the effects of closing the aforementioned generosity, highlighting the possibility of the 75 to 100 dependents ending up dispersed over the county if forced to leave. According to the story in QC News, since these people would turn to any methods necessary to survive due to a lack of other options, this could potentially cause more serious issues.
At the ministry's Oakland Street facility, which had over 300 requests for first responders in a single year, there have also been growing concerns about safety. During the conference, it was also revealed that there had been a second death at the scene, the cause of which had not yet been established.