The past two weeks have been turbulent ones in the life of Missiongathering Christian Church. After receiving a notice from the City of San Diego to cease our youth homeless shelter and rentals of our Sanctuary, Missiongathering has been thrown into a very real struggle for the survival of our church at 3090 Polk Avenue. These days have been taxing on our staff, our board, and on our entire congregation. There is a genuine feeling that we are facing a disproportionate battle against powers much stronger than our small but faithful community.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve also seen the Spirit of God move in the midst of our congregation in a mighty way. We’ve come together to pray, to worship, and to organize so that we can continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus on the corner of Polk and Illinois. We have received support from thousands of people around San Diego, who have given their time, their voice, their skills, and their money to ensure that we can keep moving forward. We’ve experienced so much love and encouragement from leaders- both political and religious- on every part of the spectrum.
This past Sunday, our sanctuary was packed with not only our own congregation but visitors from around San Diego standing in support of our congregation. On Tuesday, volunteers showed up to greet those experiencing homelessness with hot meals, hygiene services, and a reminder that they will always be welcome at Missiongathering. It’s hard not to stand here, at the end of the second week of this battle, and not well up with gratitude for what God is doing in the midst of these trying times.
With that said, we are still in the heat of the struggle. Over the past two weeks, despite immense pressure from thousands of constituents around the City, not much has changed. The City has shown no substantial evidence that they have any desire to help us keep our youth shelter running, to keep our sanctuary rentals going, and to keep our church alive. We are still being pressured to comply with the orders of the City with no evidence of grace or reprieve for our church. And if this pressure continues, our church will be forced to implement extreme budget cutting measures which would severely damage the ability of our church to function in an effective way.
On our side, we have been working diligently to make the repairs around our campus to bring us into compliance with the City’s Codes. We’ve scheduled an initial reinspection of our campus for next Tuesday, September 17th, and we hope that the City will see that we have been making as much progress as possible with the limited resources we have at our disposal. We’ve also been reaching out regularly to Councilman Chris Ward, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and Senior Zoning Investigator William Dauphin asking for help- and while Councilman Ward’s staff has been incredibly gracious and attentive this week, we have seen little substantial assistance extended to our church.
It should also be noted that the City’s actions have already caused irreversible damage to our church. Because of the inaction of the City over the past two weeks, most of the rentals scheduled for the rest of the year at our churches ministry The Irenic have already been moved to other venues, meaning that we have already lost tens of thousands of dollars that were essential to our operations.
Over the next week, we intend to engage in more direct action. I’ve reached out to Mayor Faulconers office and requested an emergency meeting to discuss our situation. Our legal team is planning to take official action in the near future. We are working with activists around San Diego to organize direct actions to encourage our leaders to step up and take action to help save our community of faith. We also are planning creative ways to continue our outreach to bless and serve those experiencing homelessness. More information about all of these efforts will be released in the coming days.
As we continue in this fight for our life, I want to make four requests of all who feel connected to this struggle:
Again, let me state that we are so humbled and grateful for the support of the thousands who have reached out over the past two weeks. We still clearly have a long road ahead of us, but together, I really believe we are going to be able to make substantial change in the City of San Diego that will serve the common good of everyone. But we must keep pressing on.