FLEMINGSBURG – A disagreement between city officials and Church volunteers in the Greater Rain community threatened Tuesday to end the church’s pantry service.
Jacob Sartin, associate minister of the church, said church officials were following the advice of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear while trying to provide food to the community during the COVID-19 crisis when officials in the city showed up.
The confrontation was filmed by members of the church.
“Yesterday we planned to give food to families in Fleming County and surrounding areas, anyone who needed it could come along. We had made boxes, we had developed a strategic plan to follow Andy Beshear’s request for no more than 10 people. We had gloves, we had masks. As we prepared to bring boxes and set up tables and items outside the church, local Fleming County Health Officer, Stephanie Fryman, came with two police officers from the ward. Flemingburg police, ”Sartin said.
According to Sartin, Fryman said the church was served by a cease and desist order.
“I said, ‘Well why? “We don’t have a church service, we distribute food to families, we drive around like every other county has done,” Sartin said. He said Fryman failed to serve the papers to him and actually put them back in his pocket.
“Later she made the comment ‘well it was raining’, I said ‘well it doesn’t matter if it was raining or snowing or hailing or snowing you didn’t give me the status. You didn’t read it to me, ”and she said,“ well, I told you. I said ‘well, okay, and if I was illiterate and couldn’t read, you didn’t read it to me, give it to me, you left it in your pocket’ ” , Sartin said.
Senior pastor Jacob White arrived and Fryman told church members that they could only have two members to lead the operation. Sartin said it was not doable.
“Which is impossible because you know, you’re going to have to have somebody to run the traffic, you’ve got people packing boxes of food, you just can’t do it with two people, there’s simply no way. We then asked the police, because they are community officials, if they would agree to help, not once did they offer it. We said if you can figure out how to do that then let us know, ”Sartin said.
Sartin said Fryman kept insisting it was a mass crowd.
Later, Police Chief Brian Bowling arrived and entered the church with White. According to Sartin, Bowling asked White about his understanding of Governor Beshear’s order.
During this time, the members continued to distribute food to people. Sartin said they had worked two days before to prepare the boxes.
“Mrs. Fryman said two people, Andy Beshear said 10, the police chief ended up letting us six people stay at the church and he himself read the official newspaper to the senior pastor that we had been served and he said we have to shut it down, “Sartin said. When asked what was closed, Bowling didn’t clarify, Sartin said.
“He still wouldn’t make a clear violation of who was who with all of this going on,” Sartin said.
With the coronavirus crisis, the lack of jobs, the lack of income, it is important to continue to feed the families who badly need it, he said.
“We live in an area as rural as it is anyway, and Fleming County is under-resourced as it is. I know this, that the Fleming County Extension Office is partnering with the Fleming County Baptist Church, and they couldn’t have their pantry because they closed it because of what’s going on, the virus, you know, a breakout. Hillsboro, we later found out, was the only one in Fleming County that we knew to donate food, so it was very important to feed these people, ”Sartin said.
Sartin said 84 families and more than 250 people received food on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Sartin contacted Flemingsburg Mayor Bobby Money. Sartin said he believed the mayor needed to know the church was right there to help the community, to reach out and try to feed the people.
Sartin said the mayor backed Fryman, which Money corroborated. Money said he appreciated Sartin letting him know what was going on.
“Stephanie and the health department, each county’s health department, have been nominated to be the primary person responsible for public health, and I have to support that,” Money said.
Bill Bacon, chairman of the board of health, said the Fleming County health department and board of health were not interrupting the distribution of food to the needy in Fleming County. Bacon said that, unlike the video posted by Sartin, almost all of Fleming County’s churches, the school system, and community organizations make food available to those in need on a daily basis.
“We learned last week that the Greater Rain Community Church, led by Jacob White, was meeting in groups considerably larger than 10, and last week, [Fryman], on behalf of the Fleming County Health Department, and as directed by Governor Beshear, texted – because she did not have a cell phone number – texted Jacob White for him say they had to start following the governor’s directive and avoid getting together in groups of more than 10, ”Bacon said.
Bacon said White recognized the text message, but did not respond.
“Tuesday evening is the usual meeting time of the week for [the church], and Stephanie went with the police and when they were gathered in a group much larger than 10, gave them a cease and desist order, as ordered by the governor, when someone was warned not to not come together, ”Bacon said.
Bacon said every church and community center, and the school system, has learned to comply with the distribution of food appropriately by the governor’s directive.
“Whether it’s preparing the boxes ahead of time and having a drive-thru, or food drops, or anything of that nature that would allow you to be able to distribute food without having to large groups come together and without social interaction or social contact, ”said Lard.
The cease-and-desist order was not for the distribution of food, but for large groups coming together, Bacon said.
“Stephanie and I talked about it, she also had a meeting with the county attorney, we feel like we are following the governor’s directive, and there are a lot of organizations in Fleming County that distribute food. to people in need. to what he posted, and every other group that we know of is following the governor’s directive on how to distribute the food, ”Bacon said.
Bacon said he was very concerned about COVID-19 and concerned about the adherence by all members of the community to the governor’s directives.
“It appeared to be an organization that was not in compliance with the governor’s directive. They had been warned to depart once, and last night gave them, under state directives, their cease and desist agreement not to continue to gather in large groups, ”Bacon said.
Bacon said the group was allowed to continue, but within the confines of Beshear’s directive.
“They are urged to continue doing what they are doing within the direction of the governor,” Bacon said.