Church battles city over gatherings

Dave Dormer

Sun Media

 

Members of the Street Church Ministry say they’re victims of religious persecution by the city as it attempts to get an injunction barring them from gathering in local parks to feed the homeless while exercising their faith.

And Rev. Art Pawlowski has vowed they won’t stop, even if today’s effort by the city is successful.

"How can we?" he said. "Two homeless people are dying every week," he added, without proof to back up that claim.

Bylaw boss Bill Bruce rejected Pawlowski’s persecution claim, saying the city is simply enforcing its rules.

Pawlowski has been given upwards of 50 tickets ranging from illegal use of an amplifier to disturbing the peace and holding an illegal gathering from his preaching in Triangle Park, which sometimes draws crowds of up to 500 of the city’s down-and-out looking for a free meal.

Pawlowski fought each of those in court, and each time the judge declined to rule, instead sending it to a higher court because of the Charter issues involved.

The city is now seeking the injunction to stop Pawlowski from holding gatherings until those cases are resolved.

Should the injunction be granted, Pawlowski said that would leave hundreds of his followers liable to imprisonment.

 

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