Arizona Church Fights to Continue Food Pantry


 By Kim Roberts - Posted at MinistryWatch:

Published March 26, 2024

Gethsemani is one of a growing number of churches dealing with city zoning regulations challenging its compassion ministries

Another church, this time in Arizona, is dealing with alleged zoning code violations for a benevolence food pantry it has operated for nearly 25 years.

Gethsemani Baptist Church in San Luis, Arizona, has operated a food pantry since 1999 as part of its religious mission to serve the most vulnerable. It distributes food, clothing, water, and household supplies. About 300 families regularly participated in the distribution each Saturday morning.

But now the City of San Luis has been citing the pastor and threatening an enforcement action against the church for zoning code violations if it doesn’t cease operations, the church’s federal complaint states.

For years the City of San Luis worked with the church, including providing a warehouse for the church to store most of the food and supplies, according to court filings. Food was transported from the warehouse to the church by semi-trucks, which parked in the church parking lot to unload the goods.

When the city passed a new zoning code in 2012, the food pantry at the church was allowed and treated as a “legal, non-conforming use.”

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