St. Timothy’s Church Remains Steadfast in its Decision to Serve the Homeless Community of Brookings

MEDFORD, Ore. — The St. Timothy Episcopal Church in Brookings has taken another step in its hard-fought legal battle against the city for restricting its social services to the homeless community in the area.

UPDATE: St. Timothy’s Church Wins Federal Court Battle Against City Of Brookings

In this new development, the church has lodged a lawsuit with the Medford Federal Court against the city of Brookings. The church is seeking a summary judgment for a judge to decide whether the case goes to trial.


Church Barred From Serving Meals To the Homeless

St. Timothy Church became embroiled in a legal tussle with the city of Brookings in October 2021 when the council approved an ordinance to stop churches in residential areas from providing meals to homeless people without a permit. The council also barred churches from serving meals to those communities more than twice weekly.

The ordinance became effective after the city council received a petition from residents complaining about homeless people staying on St. Timothy Church property and in areas surrounding the church. Petitioners claimed that the homeless community posed a danger to their properties and families.

But St. Timothy Church has remained resolute in its fight against the council and has continued to provide social services to the homeless population in the face of legal repercussions.

Father Bernie Lindley, pastor of the church, has made it clear that St. Timothy Church will continue serving the homeless people of the city of Brookings. “We have not slowed down…we are going to do what we are going to do,” he said in a recent interview.

Several months after the ordinance came into effect, the church instituted legal proceedings against the city, citing that the action by the city council interfered with the feeding program that was part of the teaching and the faith of St. Timothy Church.

In April 2023, the church was served a notice of abate from the council for serving “benevolent meals” to the homeless in violation of the ordinance. The city council warned the church that it would be penalized if it continued to offer social services to the homeless population. Apart from feeding the needy, the notice of abate also warned the church that it would face fines if it continued other social services such as its advocacy and day programs, and its outreach clinic.

Related: Oregon Has The Fourth Largest Homeless Population In The U.S

After a failed appeal last December, St. Timothy Church has now instituted the federal lawsuit action.

Father Lindley says St. Timothy Church has no qualms about fighting this issue in court if a judge rules that the case goes to trial. If the judge rules in favor of the church, Father Lindley says the church will continue to feed the community’s homeless population.

Father Lindley says it feels as if the congregation of St. Timothy’s is being blamed for the city’s homeless crisis when it is simply acting as a resource.

“We are not trying to create or enable homelessness. Instead, we want to be part of its solution.”

Related: Medford Judge Launches Community Outreach Court Program At Homeless Shelter


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