Ohio church sues city after pastor charged for using sanctuary as a 24/7 homeless shelter

A church in Bryan, Ohio, is suing the city in federal court after police filed criminal charges against its pastor for providing a 24/7 ministry and shelter for homeless people.

Pastor Chris Avell of Dad’s Place church faces 18 criminal charges after city police accused him of violating the zoning ordinance, lacking proper kitchen and laundry facilities, and having hazardous exits and improper ventilation, according to the Associated Press. The church filed a lawsuit against the city, Bryan Mayor Carrie Schlade, and other Bryan officials on Monday on the grounds of violating their right to free exercise of religion.

The rented church building is located near a separate homeless shelter in Bryan, a city of approximately 8,600 residents. Leaders of Dad’s Place decided last March to open the church as
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