Nashville church wants to allow homeless camp on property

Nashville church wants to allow homeless camp on property (Image 1)

Green Street Church of Christ is taking on the city of Nashville in an effort to keep a homeless camp on the church's property.

The church has allowed about a dozen homeless people to set up tents on their front lawn as a safe place to live.

However, after a complaint to the zoning board and a citation, the city wants to put an end to the encampment.

The church believes it is their calling to help the homeless.

“It is the church's belief that when they see a poor person, they see Jesus and they feel that to ignore a poor person or not help them would be to violate their religious beliefs, violate what they see is in the Bible and to turn Jesus away,” Tripp Hunt, the attorney representing the church, told Nashville's News 2.

The encampment is home to Roger McGue and his mother Debrae.

“It's safe, there's no trouble, there's no alcohol, no prostitution, none of that,” McGue told Nashville's News 2.

McGue and his mother have lived on the church grounds for two weeks while he looks for job.

“Employment is really hard for me because of my past, which I don't blame people,” McGue said.

The church has allowed homeless people to live on their grounds for the last several months.  Two church members are responsible for making sure the encampment is safe and problem free.

In a statement, Green Street Church of Christ Pastor Jim Atwood said, “Our vision is to have a downtown location where God is free to help and heal many of the forgotten, and often forsaken, people of our city. We are simply doing what a church ought to do.”

Tom Cross, Metro Nashville Attorney told Nashville's News 2, “We are working hard with our codes department to make sure we understand what our responsibilities are both to enforcement of our zoning code and to accommodate the religious mission of the church We would like to assure that we could come up with a solution that does accommodate the church's religious mission while still protecting public health and safety as best we can.”

The two sides are expected to meet in court in November.

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