Redmond church faces fines for hosting Tent City

05:50 PM PST on Sunday, February 11, 2007
From KING Staff reports


More than 50 people have set up camp outside St. Jude Catholic Church in Redmond.

REDMOND, Wash. - Tent City 4 went up Saturday night outside St. Jude Catholic Church in Redmond. The amenities are modest, but for the 56 people living there, it's something.

"A tent with food in it, nice warm blankets, and I wasn't sleeping on the floor," said Lerone Walker.

For the next 90 days, hot meals will be served and this will be home for the homeless.

But according to the City of Redmond, it's against the law. The church had applied for a permit, and it was initially approved. But later, that permit was voided because of what amounted to a technical error.

Even so, moving day was not postponed.

"These are people that need a place to live and they can't wait for City Council to have a chance to meet," said Jay Beavers of St. Jude.

The penalty is steep - $350 a day - beginning next week.

Father Dave Rogerson is going ahead, despite breaking the law.

"Sometimes it's easy for us to do some good things and kind of paddle around in the safe waters, and not having a permit kind of throws us out into the unsafe waters and we have to see what's really important to us and how to live out our Christian calling," he said.

During Sunday's sermon, Father Rogerson thanked his congregation for opening their hearts and the church to those in need.

"All week people having been coming up to me in our neighborhood and various churches and say if fines come let us know we'll take up a collection. We'll do whatever we have to do," he said.

Each Tent City 4 move has brought the potential for legal problems and distrust in the community.

So far, Redmond Police have responded to at least one disgruntled resident who made a threat made against the church. Others are trying to be a bit more open minded.

"I'm a little nervous about it, but I'd like to think everything is going to be okay, and they've checked everybody out and they're going to be on their best behavior," said Tina Nabseth.

The church has appealed the decision about the permit, but the issue won't go before the City Council until March 6.

By that time, the church could face almost $6,000 in fines.



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