Brookings issues notice to St. Timothy’s church, could be fined $720 a day

BROOKINGS, Ore. – We told you a year ago, about St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Brookings, Handing out meals to those in need, 6 days a week.

However, after complaints from neighbors, the Brookings city council passed an ordinance demanding churches in residential areas to serve food no more than 2 days a week. A lawsuit was soon filed by the church.

Now, it’s received an abatement notice from the city, to stop part of its social services. Last week, the city sent a notice to the church. It said if they don’t stop their meal service for the homeless, the city could fine them $720 each day.

The city said St. Timothy’s was feeding so many people so often, they were basically operating as a restaurant. St. Timothy’s argues the ordinance issued last year violates their first amendment right, to express their religion freely. In the notice, the city said the church must cease the operation of some of its social services that they claim are not allowed, in 10 days, to avoid enforcement and potential civil penalties.

When asked if the church will continue to provide those services, here’s what the church had to say.

“I… I don’t know,” St. Timothy’s Episcopal vicar, Bernie Lindley said.” We’re kind of at the… I don’t know. There’s no way we could afford a $720 fine that would accrue every single day for the days that we are feeding people, that’s not something that we’re able to pay,” said Vicar, Bernie Lindley.

Lindley said he’s not sure what their next actions will be, as they try to make sense of the notice.

The city sent out a statement on Monday, saying it sent the notice to the church for being out of compliance with municipal code and land use laws, including the meal services ordinance. It also said public safety problems remain an issue at and surrounding the church.

Lindley said the lawsuit is still pending litigation and could last another three years.

We reached out to the city of Brookings for comment, we have not heard back.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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