Dear Missiongathering Family:
Last week at our Town Hall Meeting I informed you of a battle that has brewing between Missiongathering and the City of San Diego concerning our homeless shelter and our rentals of our sanctuary for live entertainment. In July, City officials came and inspected our campus to determine if we we're properly zoned and properly operating within city code.
Over the last month, I have had two communications with the Senior Zoning Official who assured me that things were looking favorable for Missiongathering to be able to continue operating our shelter and renting our sanctuary.
On Saturday, the church received a Civil Penalty Notice and Order from the City of San Diego, ordering that we cease operations of our shelter and cancel all rentals of our sanctuary immediately- an action that will potentially cost the church an estimated tens of thousands before year end, and force us to cease a ministry that is at the very heartbeat of who we are as a faith community.
This notice also cited us with 29 violations and informed us that we may be back-charged at a rate of $300 per violation, per day, since the inspectors first noticed them on July 31, 2019. We plan to avoid these penalties by immediately working to correct all violations that have been identified. As of this writing, we have fully complied with a specific order which listed seven particular violations that immediately needed to be addressed.
After much prayer and consulting with legal counsel, I believe that The City of San Diego is violating our religious liberty as a church and that we must fight these actions for the sake of the survival of our church and our right to be who God has called us to be- and who we've always been. It is a fundamental call of Christ to reach out to those who are in need, to clothe the naked, and to be a good steward of our resources. The City is not only preventing us from doing that, they are penalizing us for it.
This is a moment for us to unite as followers of Jesus and utilize the power of our faith and the power of our collective voices to speak truth to power. Over the coming days, we are going to have two opportunities to do just that:
First, on Tuesday evening I would like to invite our entire congregation to show up and join faith and community leaders from across the City for a Press Conference where we will call on the City of San Diego to cease these attacks on our community and to work with us in a more reasonable manner to continue operating as a faith community. This conference will be at 6:30 PM on our campus.
Second, on Thursday evening, I would like to call on our church to gather for a time of prayer and worship as we ask God for his guidance, provision, and protection in this season. The Prayer Gathering will begin at 6:30 PM in our Sanctuary and will conclude around 8:00 PM. It is essential that in this season of turbulence we are lifting our church up to God and ensuring that we are fighting this battle in his strength.
The following weeks and months are not going to be easy for our community- the spiritual, legal, and financial pressure that The City is putting on our church is immense. Your Board of Directors is committed to meeting weekly, consulting lawyers, and seeking the assistance of our denomination as we prayerfully navigate the path ahead of us.
In the midst of this all, I am confident that God is at work, and that through this trial, our church will be strengthened in our witness of Christ's radically inclusive love. On the other side of these challenges, we will stand victorious as beacons of the love of Jesus to our world.
So Missiongathering, please know that your leaders are praying for you, and we certainly covet your prayers. Also, if you have any insight, wisdom, or resources that may be helpful to us in this next season, please feel free to reach out to our board at any time.
Thank you all for your faithfulness to God and to this beautiful community called Missiongathering.
With faith and love:
Pastor Brandan Robertson | Lead Pastor
Missiongathering Christian Church
San Diego, CA