Maryland Church Fined $12,000 For Doing ‘God’s Work,’ Sheltering Homeless

A Maryland church has been fined $12,000 for doing what they say is “God’s work” and sheltering the homeless. The Patapsco United Methodist Church was being used as a safe haven, WISTV reports.

ABC2 News confirmed that Rev. Katie Grover showed up at the Church to find a $12,000 citation.

“I showed up Wednesday morning to find a citation on the door that said we’re going to be fined $12,000 and have a court date because we have unhoused homeless people sleeping outside the church at night.”

When a neighbor, Chester Bartko, noticed that the church was sheltering a few homeless people, he became upset. Chester alleged that one of the homeless people, who has been staying at the church, killed one of his trees. He reported the church to the police authority.

When the police arrived and noticed that the church was being used as a safe haven for homeless people, they handed Rev. Katie Grover a citation of $12,000 for operating a “non-permitted rooming and boarding house.”

“The business that we conduct is caring for the least, the last and the lost, and the best we can do right now is let them take refuge.”

Grover was unsure how the citation fit “the crime,” as they do not pay anything to stay there.

“They’re not paying me rent or paying us rent to board here, so I don’t know how that is defined.”

Bartko made it loud and clear that he didn’t want the homeless living next to him.

“I want them moved out of here. The county and state has facilities for homeless people. They shouldn’t be here living like this.”

According to KFVS 12, Rev. Katie Grover sees the situation in a much different view than Bartko. She wants the church to be used as a refuge for the homeless. She doesn’t want to turn anyone away because she doesn’t want to see anyone sleeping outside.

a Maryland church has been fined $12,000 for acting as a safe haven and homeless refuge.

“The business that we conduct is caring for the least, the last and the lost, and the best we can do right now is let them take refuge.”

Rev. Katie Grover said that the homeless people feel safe there and stay at the church because they don’t have anywhere else to go.

“We feel we here as a church that it’s scriptural mandate that’s it an imperative to care for the least, the last, the lost, the poor, the hungry.”

Bartko, who has a greenhouse and sells shrubbery and flowers, that the homeless people staying at the church has been peeing on one of his apple trees, causing it to die.

“They dump gallons of urine on it.”

Bartko claims to have spoken with Rev. Katie Grover, as well as the police, then the county code dating back to June. Rev. Katie Grover was allegedly given three warnings before finally being fined $12,000.

Baltimore County online database does show a complaint against the church back in November.

Grover argued that there isn’t always someone there patrolling the church day and night, and simply can’t control everyone who chooses to stay there.

“We can’t be here all night patrolling the area. We can’t control whether someone comes and sleeps outside of our doors, so I don’t know how we’re cited for people who find refuge here.”

The church was given until December 18 to pay the fine and release all homeless people from the property. A court hearing is scheduled for December 21. Rev. Katie Grover has spoken with the Code Enforcement Office and they revealed that the fine will be dropped if she would comply with the code. Should the church have to pay the $12,000 fee, it is likely that the church will be shut down because they will be unable to afford to feed the poor.

Rev. Grover is struggling to do what is right and legal.

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