Story By Ciara Cummings
Sundays mean bible study and dinner for a group that meets at Munn Park, but the group’s lease may soon be up.
Sanctuary Ministries, formerly known as Mad Hatter, has what they like to call a spiritual potluck dinner.
This weekly routine has been interrupted by the Lakeland City Council and the police. The ministry received a letter from the city council saying they needed a permit for their gatherings.
“We’ve run into a little bit of trouble with the city requiring us to come up with some huge funds for permitting,” Michelle Maynard, the ministry leader, said.
The city fined them after concerns from the neighboring businesses and complaints of trash.
But the ministry said they have been cleaning up after themselves, so they have no idea where the complaints are coming from.
The fine can go up to $1,000 per week, but Sanctuary Ministry said they do not have the money. Even if they got the funds, it is unlikely the money would go to purchasing a permit.
“If we have more money, we are going to put it into the ministry,” Maynard said.
The ministry’s money is spent on their food services, or as homeless vet Sarg calls it, soul food.
“I had to go dumpster diving and its really rough,” Sarg said.
Sarg may not remember the sermon the pastor delivered, but he will not forget the meal Maynard believes.
“They may not remember the words that were spoken in twenty years.” Maynard said. “They’re going to remember the kinship from the people that fed them that meal, and that’s going to stick with them for the rest of their lives.”
Sanctuary Ministries has no plans to abide by the city’s orders at this time or in the near future.