This is all within a stone's throw of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville.
In fact in the picture above you can see one of FBC Jax's parking garages and the crosswalk leading to another of their garages.
Says the article:
"Since Tuesday, people sleeping on the sidewalk near the mission's New Life Inn have been chased away and, in a few cases, arrested."
"Mission leaders say they were blind-sided by the actions, because the few dozen people who sleep outside the mission's New Life Inn - which has been full for months and has seen a 33% increase in demand - have been doing so for more than a year."
Is it just a coincidence that these efforts are occuring just days before the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference begins, when thousands of pastors and high-profile Christian speakers are flying into town?
The article goes on:
"Jacksonville Sheriff's Lt. Steve Gallaher said the department had received a complaint on Tuesday about the area of Julia Street near State Street getting worse, which led to enforcement actions."
I wonder who made the complaint.
More from the article:
"On Friday afternoon, two police cars pulled up on Julia Street and ordered people waiting for intake to get their feet and any property off the street and onto the sidewalk."
Friday afternoon. The day the Pastor's Conference starts just yards from the homeless shelter, two police cars pull up.
More from the article:
"Duguid [CRM COO] said that some of the 'trash' on the sidewalk was actually the personal belongings of homeless people. He said many of the people who slept near the shelter said they did so because they saw it as a 'safe zone' where they would not fear violence...Duguid said no one at the mission could remember it previously having received notices of code violations by the city for a similar infraction."
It all may be just a coincidence that this is occuring just hours before the start of the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference. Even if it is just a coincidence, what a sad state of affairs when in the shadows of the city's largest and wealthiest church holding a conference full of pastors - there is a homeless shelter yards away that is at such over capacity that the men and women needing help are being arrested and moved off the sidewalks. A conference where money is flowing, promotions sold by the church to vendors for thousands of dollars, and speakers who will get paid thousands for their speeches - even wealthy church marketing consultants in town Twittering about their lavish meals and desserts at fancy restaurants - yet for over a year the homeless shelter next door can't house and feed all the needy people. The pastors at the conference are busy Twittering about all they are learning from these very wealthy speakers; I wonder if any will be emphasizing the need to care more for the poor.
How ironic also, that the first night of the conference, FBC Jax pastor Mac Brunson announces to the attendees that they should take pictures of the auditorium, because just after the conference concludes they will be starting a renovation of the auditorium. Millions available for renovations of an auditorium that is at a fraction of its capacity, but hardly any money for the poor.
This should cause ALL of us Christians to hang our head is disgust that we and our churches are not doing more to help the poor.
Most of these pastors who come in town are likely telling their congregations that the bible says to fork over 10% minimum of their income to the church...which the Bible does not say...yet these same pastors and their churches ignore the clear direct command of Jesus Christ to care for the widows and orphans and the downtrodden.
God help us all.