Ohio Pastor Charged for Opening Church to Homeless People in Freezing Weather

Dad’s Place is next to a homeless shelter, so he opted to open the church’s doors to anyone the shelter was unable to help

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Chris Avell, the pastor of Dad’s Place in Bryan, Ohio, has been charged with violating the city’s zoning laws for allegedly keeping the church’s doors open for the homeless 24/7. City officials said the charges stem from investigations that allegedly uncovered safety risks inside the church, but his attorney told Newsweek that the church made necessary repairs and that the city continues shifting the goalposts amid the dispute.

Avell pleaded not guilty to violating zoning rules at his January 11 arraignment. Dad’s Place is next to a homeless shelter, so he opted to open the church’s doors to anyone the shelter was unable to help, according to WTVG in Toledo. The Bryan City Zoning Commission in November warned him that the church may not be used a shelter, as it does not have bedrooms, and doing so would violate zoning laws.

“Last year we made the decision to keep our church doors open 24/7,” he said. “We had opened during extreme heat and extreme cold before to allow people in. It’s kind of this idea that we believe that anyone who is weary and burdened, that they can come in and find rest. And we believe it’s true rest, like rest for our souls.” Adell said he believes the church is “commanded” to take care of those in need and “show Christ’s love to even those the world rejects.”

NEWSWEEK

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