A San Diego community is hoping to break the chains that could close the Missiongathering Christian Church in North Park.
The church cares for homeless youth, but has been slapped with thousands of dollars in fines.
Dozens of people participated in a prayer vigil, which was held Friday night in the hopes that something can be done to keep the doors open to the shelter.
“I was 12 years old. I grew up in an abusive alcoholic family in Maryland. I went to a Baptist Church and discovered that God was a better parent than my parent was,” said Pastor Brandan Robertson.
Missiongathering Christian Church provides that same sense of home for youth in North Park. But everything changed when the city said they weren’t properly zoned and had a slew of building violations – something they’re working quickly to remedy.
“We have new fire extinguishers, we put in fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the area where our youth sleep. We’ve gone around and fixed panels that were down, posted exit signs, and we’ve posted occupancy in all the room,” said Robertson.
The city wants them to rezone as a music venue, which could cost thousands. The church hosts concerts ending before 10 PM to pay the mortgage and destigmatize church.
In the vigil, they prayed that officials would help them. Robertson says the collective worshiped, sang songs of resistance, and strengthen and encourage the community. The community rallied, raised thousands on GoFundMe, and filled Councilman Chris Ward’s voicemail.
“The city hasn’t been doing what they need to do. The church is leading in that area and we need to be supporting them on every end,” said Executive Director of Generation Justice Aeiramique Glass Blake.
Robertson said the best case scenario is they can keep concerts booked through the end of the year just so they can pay the mortgage and keep the doors open.