A church has withdrawn its support for a food pantry serving the needy because the pantry works with Roman Catholics.
Central Church of God explained its decision in a letter March 1 from minister of evangelism Shannon Burton to Loaves & Fishes in Charlotte.
"As a Christian church, we feel it is our responsibility to follow closely the (principles) and commands of Scripture," the letter said.
"To do this best, we feel we should abstain from any ministry that partners with or promotes Catholicism, or for that matter, any other denomination promoting a works-based salvation."
Loaves & Fishes isn’t the only ministry with which the large church has cut ties, and Catholics have not been the only reason they’ve given.
The Rev. Tony Marciano, executive director of Charlotte Rescue Mission, said Burton told him the church could no longer support the agency after it allowed three Muslim students from UNC Charlotte to help serve a meal.
Doug Hartjes, director of development for Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte, said Central Church of God told them it will not provide financial support this year. Crisis Assistance provides emergency financial aid and other help to people.
Hartjes said 200 congregations representing Christian, Jewish and other faiths donate money and volunteer time, as do people with no religious affiliation.
The church also ended funding for Love Inc., which provides services for the poor, elderly and disabled in Mecklenburg County.
Anna Burton, a spokesperson for Central Church of God and the minister’s wife, said church leaders decline comment, letting the letter speak for itself. She said there was no animosity toward any of the organizations.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte released a statement Friday, saying, "This apparent attempt to divide the faith community is most unfortunate." [Source]
Cutting funding for Love is pretty appropriate in this case. It is not surprising that this minister believes that the Catholic Church teaches works based salvation since this is a very common misunderstanding, but to say that providing funds for a ministry that helps the poor promotes the Catholic Church falls to the same error that opponents of the government partnering with faith-based organizations say.
Update: "I’m apologizing," the Rev. Loran Livingston said at the second of two Palm Sunday services. "I’m telling all the people for the hurt, `I’m sorry’… As long as we can, we’re going to help until the Lord tells us to redirect our wealth." [Source]