Founded in 1946, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Brookings, Oregon has served the community for decades, providing health clinics, a food bank, showers, and internet access, among other services. to the city’s community of people in need. According to a statement released by the church, St. Timothy’s ramped up its efforts at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding its free lunch program at a time when nearly every other church in the area suspended in-person programming. . According to NPR, the church was serving a free lunch six days a week — an effort that is jeopardized by a new ordinance that limits the number of meals charities can serve per week.
According to the church’s press release, in response to the expanded meal program, about 30 Brookings residents signed a petition criticizing the church’s activities and other efforts to help the homeless and underserved. After receiving the petition, Brookings passed an ordinance requiring local churches to apply for a permit granting the right to provide “benevolent meal service” — but even once approved, only two meals a week can be served (via OPB) .
St. Timothy’s has never reduced the amount of meals it provides, and on January 28 filed a lawsuit against the City of Brookings challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance.