Compromise benefits all
Church takes the high road by agreeing to gather at Chico Municipal Center
Chico’s Orchard Church was unfairly singled out as a magnet for homeless and transient folks during recent city meetings at which the public was invited to weigh in on the issues plaguing downtown.
Its “Church on the Street” ministry had been providing meals and fellowship to the homeless at City Plaza for more than five years without any complaints from the public or the city, and doing a lot of good in the process. As its advocates have noted, in the last year alone, the church has helped three people with addiction problems seek treatment, lent the support necessary for three people to pull themselves out of homelessness, and helped yet three others reunite with loved ones.
In other words, Orchard Church was being part of the solution, not the problem.
Still, as the rhetoric around homelessness reached fever-pitch, the church was criticized relentlessly by many in the public, including a business owner who labeled the church’s leader as a “ghetto pastor.” And its work to continue serving the needy came into jeopardy when a local business owner filed an appeal of its permit to operate at the plaza.
Despite all of the pressure and condemnation, Jim Culp, Orchard Church’s pastor, took the high road this week by negotiating an agreement with the city of Chico that moves the organization’s weekly fellowship to the Chico Municipal Center sidewalk near the “Our Hands” sculptures (See “Compromise prevails,” Newslines, page 9).
Culp should be commended for the compromise, which should quell the concerns of the appellant as well as others in the community who called for the church’s permit to be revoked. He and the church’s volunteers should also be commended for standing up for the down-and-out and not giving up on a ministry that benefits the entire community.