Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

Birmingham Police Stop Pastor From Feeding Homeless

Birmingham, AL police are cracking down on pastors who feed the homeless. Keep it classy, Birmingham.

Birmingham, AL police are cracking down on drugs, human trafficking, pastors who feed the homeless.

Pastor Rick Wood has a ministry to the homeless, and for the past several years has been helping to meet tangible needs in whatever small ways he can. As often as he is able, he packs up food and water into his truck and drives around distributing food to the city’s homeless population.

Or at least, so he did.

Turns out, the city is shutting him down– for not having a permit for a “food truck”. The city recently passed a new ordinance to shut down unlicensed food trucks who restaurants complained are hurting business– and somehow that’s now being applied to a pastor who is feeding the people no one else is feeding.

Way to keep it classy, Birmingham.

As we enter Holy Week, may we remember the words of Jesus who clearly told us which questions are going to be on the test:

When I was hungry, you fed me.

When I was thirsty, you gave me a drink.

When I was an immigrant, you welcomed me.

When I was naked, you gave me clothes.

When I was sick, you gave me medicine.

When I was in prison, you visited me.

May we do these things and embody what it means to follow Jesus– and may we do them with or without a permit.


Here’s the story:

Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and earned his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller.

He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus.

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15 Responses

  1. I am a student of BAK College. The recent paper competition gave me a lot of headaches, and I checked a lot of information. Finally, after reading your article, it suddenly dawned on me that I can still have such an idea. grateful. But I still have some questions, hope you can help me.

  2. Dang, way to go Birmingham! <–*extreme sarcasm* I'm glad to see in the comments that this issue was resolved!

  3. One would have thought the police would have serious things to do not rouse on feeding the hungry since when was it a crime a disgrace yes crime no . Being hungry a disgrace and homeless ness not feeding them sorry was not very clear

  4. Way to be behind the curve yet again, Bombingham. You’d think that being the explosive ground zero of the ’60s Civil Rights Movement would be enough bad press for a lifetime. How shameful.

      1. Agreed. It was an “unintended consequences” kind of thing. The foodtruck phenomenon is relatively new in the area, and they updated the codes to account for it during the last year. The new codes weren’t though through well, and this was the fallout. To their credit, they fixed it within a week of the initial incident.

    1. Thank goodness the city came to its senses. If they hadn’t I wonder if the pastor would have continued his blessed work. I hope so. If they arrested him, he could request the same jail cell where Dr. King wrote his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

  5. This is one of those kafkaesque situations that arises when the letter of the law is observed and the intend of the law is ignored. I hope that the intent of the law was to stop unregulated food trucks which do not have proper permits and may pose a health hazard. It should not be used to stop people from fulfilling Jesus’ command to feed the hungry. If it is being used for this purpose it is an unjust law and should be broken. And yes to be clear what I am advocating is civil disobedience.

  6. Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of a city stopping food distribution to the homeless, and I don’t think it will be the last. I’m praying that God softens the hearts of the people making these bogus rules.

  7. Shame on the restaurants who complained! Is their business really hurting because homeless people aren’t frequenting their restaurants? Would these restaurants rather have the homeless people pay for food with money they don’t have? Makes absolutely no sense. My advice to the pastor: keep it up man. There are other ways to see to it that the needy are provided for. Just do it another way.

    1. The restaurants weren’t concerned with anyone giving away food to the homeless. They were only concerned with food trucks eroding their business without a license.

      1. May be restaurants could feed the hungry with left over food and no don’t mean scraps off customers plates. In Queensland Australia hot bread. Shops what was not sold that day was given to St Vincent de Paul hostel and Salvation Army so could be distributed. But not sure if they still do it’s seems disgusting if they have to dump the bread into the garbage instead

        1. The restaurants in Birmingham have nothing to do with how the police enforced this law. As @1captainhooker1:disqus stated above this was an unintended consequence of the law. (It has now been changed to specifically allow the free gift of food.)

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