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Area homeless agency board members quit as same-sex couple applies
Church also pulls support from organization

GAINESVILLE — Half the members resigned last week from the board of a local nonprofit that pairs homeless families with church hosts just as a same-sex couple was being welcomed into the program.

“People have left,” Rustin Smith, a Gainesville attorney and acting president of the Family Promise of Hall County board, told The Times. “That is the issue we were discussing. The disagreements came about ... the issues related with accepting them.”

A few left for other reasons, he added.

None of the board members contacted for this story responded to requests for comment.

Lakewood Baptist Church, attended by several of those who resigned, has pulled its support as a host in the wake of the departures.

Officials with Lakewood Baptist Church have declined to comment.

Family Promise, which provides case management, consulting and advocacy, partners with about 10 other churches to house and feed homeless families. The local affiliate is part of a national organization that says it helps 50,000 homeless people annually.

The families rotate weekly among the churches for 90 days, and Family Promise has launched an affordable housing program to assist families who “graduate.”

Applicants go through an extensive interview process and background check, Smith said.

“We only accept families who have children,” he added.

Smith said the organization is reliant on host churches to succeed, but sometimes “they have differing beliefs on a variety of issues.”

“We don’t want to make it seem like they have offended us in any way,” Smith said of the board resignations.

The organization has not lost any other host churches, Smith said, and has already filled one of the open board positions.