calendar July 10, 2012 in Congregations, News

Churches Appeal of Feeding Ban Heard

Religious leaders and city officials testified July 9 in the first day of a hearing on the legality of the city’s ban on free meals for the homeless along Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Rev. Violet Little of the Welcome Church testified along with other homeless advocates and the head of the city’s parks department. Little and the other plaintiffs argue that providing food, such as the coffee hour after her "church without walls" services on the Parkway, are central to their ministries and the city’s ban interferes with the expression of their faith.

Little told the court that those who receive coffee and a snack at the Welcome Church’s services are not "the public" but members of a religious congregation. Her testimony expressed "the relationship between what I believe and what I do out on the Parkway," she said in an email after the hearing.

"It’s really about the relationships we form with the most vulnerable that is at the heart of our ministry," and food is an important part of those relationships, she said. 

Related story: Suit Challenges City’s Ban on Feeding Homeless