Time to Review Church’s Tax Status (Letter, Dec. 12)
Without more knowledge I cannot take issue with the letter writer’s specific complaint regarding a local church’s decision regarding its ability to provide emergency shelter.
However, with the knowledge I do have I would categorically deny the assertion the decision was “heartless,” as these are the same people who provide countless consistent free meals to those in need without discrimination and have provided shelter in the past.
Not only do taxpayers deserve to know the tax status of the churches, they deserve to know the “public benefit” which Canadian society has historically determined merited the tax exemptions.
The taxpaying majority which comprises the membership of each church community ensures that both a building with its social community is open to all.
Those faith-based communities provide both the space and services for varied public needs at significant cost to themselves.
One local church provides an excellent free lunch each week for the hungry, another offers to all spiritual programs to those struggling with anxiety and depression. One church is the home base for numerous groups of people needing help with overcoming addictions while another has taken on the significant project of increasing the affordable housing available to all.
Many pastors have professional credentials and offer round the clock emergency pastoral counsel and social intervention without ever issuing an invoice regardless of whether those we have served are members of our church or not.
Every city I have ever served in, the majority of those not-for-profit organizations, and non-governmental services who shelter the homeless, clothe and feed the needy, and care with compassion, are rooted and inspired by their love for God and neighbor.
These people are hardly heartless and care deeply about the community of Sooke hoping to build bridges of compassion for the needy with all people of goodwill.
Father Dean Henderson
St. Rose of Lima