Church in Sugar Land at risk of eviction for helping feed families in need

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- A church in Sugar Land is asking the community for help after receiving a notice that its food distribution was in violation of the building lease.

Pastor James Ekanem with RCCG Royal Priesthood Church said his fellowship has distributed food to the public for the past two years. However, since the COVID-19 crisis hit the Houston area, they are now seeing long lines of people in need.

In partnership with the Houston Food Bank, Ekanem said the church is feeding about 1,000 families a day, Monday through Saturday.
On Tuesday, the food bank delivered 37 pallets of food to give to families anxiously waiting in a long line alongside the shopping center.

Ekanem said his landlord gave him a notice that claimed the traffic caused by the food distribution was too great for the parking lot space and it's causing a nuisance. In the letter, it stated the church's location at the Ashford Lake Shopping Center is to be "used as a church only," not a public food distribution site.

The church has until June 5, 2020 to find a new location for the food distribution. If the church does not comply, it will be violating the lease.

ABC13 reached out to the property manager and the landlord, Doreen Speidel. Speidel released this statement Tuesday afternoon:

"We understand and appreciate the impact this most unusual pandemic has had on our community.

RCCG Royal Priesthood has leased space at The Ashford Lakes Shopping Center. Their lease specifies the use of the rented space as a "Church" and specifies hours of operation. RCCG Royal Priesthood is using the leased premises for purposes other than what is stated in their lease.

There are other tenants at Ashford Lakes Shopping Center that have the reasonable expectation to be able to conduct their businesses, free from disruption or impairment by another tenant's unauthorized use of their space.

We are a small family-owned business, not a big, heartless real estate development company and we have tried to work with RCCG Royal Priesthood during these most difficult times. While we understand they are trying to do a good deed for the community, we will have to hold them to the terms stated in their current lease.

Perhaps there is another property owner in the Sugar Land area that would be willing and better suited to accommodate the increased traffic flow caused by the operation of a food bank?
Managing Partner, DSL Family Ventures"

Pastor Ekanem is pleading with the public to help them relocate to a new building and continue their service to the community. They believe they found a place with several acres that can accommodate their food relief programs and other programs, but the church needs the community's help.

If you would like to help, you can donate online, call 281-902-7950 or visit the location at 11420 Dairy Ashford Road, Sugar Land, TX 77478.

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