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Can Homeless Shelter Qualify As A Church?

Community Inn says yes; City of Lexington says no.

A Kentucky homeless shelter will have to close or relocate if city officials have their way.

Lexington's Community Inn, jointly run by Emmanuel Apostolic Church and the Catholic Action Center, inherited the building – and thus the conditional-use permit – of a failed church. But zoning officials say the shelter's activities, which have concerned neighbors, do not qualify to use the church permit.

"It's our opinion, it is not fundamentally a church, but is fundamentally a homeless shelter," Chris King, director of the division of planning, told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

"The problem is we have a different idea of what church really is," countered church elder James McDonald to the Herald-Leader. "The Community Inn is not a church as society sees it. But the presence of the Lord is in this place."

A revocation hearing will take place Friday.

CT recently covered a similar debate in Tennessee where the City of Chattanooga evicted a church which hosted concerts as an outreach to gangs, claiming it was "a business masquerading as a church."

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