Houston attorney seeks end to Cathedral’s ‘Beacon’ program

Harry C. Arthur, a lawyer in downtown Houston whose office is near Christ Church Cathedral, is suing in pursuit of shutting down The Beacon, the cathedral’s well-used program for area homeless.

According to The Beacon’s web site, the four-day-a-week service “[provides] hot meals, clothing, private shower and lavatory facilities, laundry services, and case management to people living on the streets of Houston,” all in hopes of eventually getting people off the street.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Arthur’s suit is based the simple fact that since The Beacon came on the scene, his business has been compromised.

“What started as a good and noble idea has instead grown and turned into a danger to the health and safety of others in the adjacent areas,” the suit states. “The individuals sing, play music, dance, fight and (do) other undesirable activities. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, when The Beacon’s operation is closed, things are once again quiet and pleasant.”

Cathedral leadership remains clear-eyed.

“The Cathedral is engaged in the business of feeding the hungry and caring for the poor, as it has been for 170 years,” [Christ Church Cathedral Dean Joe] Reynolds said. “Any time you do that, there are going to be challenges involved. We try to address those challenges. We have a stake in being good neighbors in ways that are consistent with the mission we have as a Christian community.”


“This is nothing new… We don’t want to go about it in a cavalier way, but the Christian community has been in the business of feeding the hungry for 2,000 years. We’re not going to stop.”

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  1. Priscilla Cardinale

    How disturbing! I fear there is a trend now, when America is at one of its lowest points in its history, of the wealthiest among us trying to use the law against the “inconvenient” poor.

    First the Arizona supreme court bans a United Methodist church


    from providing a pancake breakfast for the homeless and now this.

    It is bad enough that so many live in gated communities, far from the diversity (and suffering) of the majority of their world neighbors.

    This is certainly food for much thought this first Sunday in Advent.

  2. Right, how untidy that the untidy may act-out when driven near out of their minds with anxiety of every looming fear (both real and not, war related or not, depression riddled or not)…I wonder if his ¨tidy¨ lawyership has interviewed the sometimes ill-mannered human beings that seem to be clogging up his view of earthly/Godly perfection and justifiable delights?

    Does ¨marginalized¨ ring a bell with the socially/economically puffed up lot?

    Outside of my door there have sometimes been lost souls who die on the street…obviously not considering my POINT OF VIEW on how well-fed, peacefilled, secure and happy they OUGHT be (but are not)! Really, there otta be a law!

  3. David Allen

    Priscilla, the truth of the matter is always important, even for those of us who are liberals/progressives. You have misread the link that you have provided.

    What the link says is that a hearing officer ruled against the church in the matter of feeding the homeless. The link identifies the hearing officer as a retired Arizona Supreme Court justice. That is not the same as the Arizona Supreme Court having made a ruling.


  4. E H Culver

    Ricardo Leonardo, your comment about the untidy got my attention. If I remember correctly, the untidiness of the Incarnation has driven people nuts for centuries. And yet, it was God’s idea.

  5. John D

    I’ve visited the Beacon with (the Very Rev.) Joe Reynolds and Elizabeth, his wife and co-conspirator. The place is incredible! Imagine a clean, new space with a volunteer-staffed cafeteria that offers CHOICES of food for patrons and a laundry service (also volunteers) that cleans and folds the clothing of homeless clients; also a safe place for a shower. G-d bless Christ Church Cathedral for its mission to the poor of downtown Houston. And we know what Shakespeare had to say about lawyers.

    I’m John Donnelly, Atlanta, Holy Innocents’

  6. Priscilla Cardinale

    Thanks David for setting the record straight, so to speak. I apologize for the rather glaring mistake. Foolish of me.

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