Discovery Park -- where ministry needs a permit

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
 | 
Becky Yeh - California correspondent (OneNewsNow.com)

A California legal group suggests that officials shouldn't "bite the hands that feed the homeless."

After threatening to shut it down, Sacramento officials may allow a church's outreach to the homeless to continue.

For more than two years, Real Life Church in the Natomas area of Sacramento has fed the homeless in Discovery Park every Wednesday. But last year, park rangers told the group that they would need "special events" permits and a food inspection to continue that ministry.

Dacus, Brad (PJI)Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) president Brad Dacus explains that since those permits are only allowed four times a year, the church's weekly potlucks would have to end.

"Ministry to the poor has been a part of the Judeo-Christian tradition for thousands of years," he points out. "Both the Constitution and common sense demand that local officials work with -- not against -- those who reach out to the destitute."

PJI staff attorney Matt McReynolds wrote to county parks officials in December, reminding them that parks are a "public form." And a few weeks later, parks director Jeff Leatherman responded by backing off the initial threats, but still requiring a permit if more than 50 people participated in the lunches.

Since the number of attendees fluctuates, church leaders are still concerned that their efforts will be shut down.

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