Thursday, July 05, 2007

7-5-07 Update on the local front

City zoning officials rescinded their ultimatim of last week and have issued a new order, presumably because we are able to provide them with our corporate paperwork and because we are a church as well as a ministry.

NOW they have ordered that we: "Discontinue use of the property located at 1103 Jenifer Street in a manner which is inconsistent with the permitted or conditional uses listed in the city of Madison Zoning Code for the R4A zoning district, including but not limited to, providing a homeless drop-in shelter, providing counseling services, and providing job location and referral services."

It is an integral part of our Christian beliefs and of who we are to love and serve the poor and oppressed. The government, whether federal, state or local, does not have the right to tell us that we cannot open our doors to the homeless or otherwise undesirable people in this city.

The R4A zoning does not specify the restriction of the above activities, it only states that we cannot be a "Mission House" which is an organization that provides lodging and or meals, as defined by the city.

We do not provide counseling services, but even if we did, the city has no right to limit a church from giving Christian counsel to those who come for Christian counsel.

We do allow the homeless and other local residents to come in, have coffee and fellowship with us, to share their lives and receive prayer, to use our phone, computer and internet connection to get a job. (Would they rather the people remain unemployed and on the streets?)

We located our ministry at God's House on the corner of Ingersol and Jenifer Streets not to bring undesirable people into the neighborhood, but because this is where this neighborhood was already full of these people needing help.

Neighbors have complained that the number of undesirable characters in the neighborhood has increased in the last two months. This is inversely proportional to the number of people we have been serving. We served many more in the months of January, February and March and the numbers of people coming to us now is far smaller. It would seem that the more people we have inside, the fewer problems the neighborhood has.

We are in the neighborhood to transform it into the kind of world our God intended us to have, a place full of peace and love and beauty. We are working to clean up unkempt parks and other areas. We are fixing up the building where we rent. We are here to improve the neighborhood through prayer and presence and God's love for all.

If you are glad we are here in the Marquette neighborhood to help bring improvements, please call or write
our alderperson: Marsha Rummel at 608-255-2728, email:
or Matt Tucker at City of Madison, Zoning Commission 608-266-4569

Please pray that the Lord will open the way for us to dialogue with neighbors who are fearful of the "undesirables" roaming our Marquette neighborhood, and that the city and neighborhood will stop hassling us and join us in making this city and their neighborhood a better place.


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