News Articles

Calif. judge denies leniency; SBC pastor’s probation stands

FULLERTON, Calif. (BP)–Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Buena Park, Calif., will remain on probation for charges he violated city zoning laws, a judge ruled Dec. 21 in Fullerton.

Judge Gregg Prickett denied a request by Drake to take nine months off his 36-month sentence for four counts of violating Buena Park’s zoning laws in connection with the church’s housing of homeless people.

Drake said he wanted early termination based on his record of no violations during two years and three months of his probation term, which is scheduled to end in September.

“We’ll finish it,” Drake said. “The judge has no leniency in his heart.”

Court officials maintained that probation was the city’s only means of control over the church. Prosecutors said there were no assurances from Drake that he would abide by the city’s municipal codes.

In the meantime, Drake said he has run out of money to construct a permanent 52-bed homeless shelter, and city officials have said they could withdraw permits for construction of the 5,200-square-foot building if Drake does not make progress toward its completion.

“We’re way behind our schedule because we’re doing it out of pocket,” Drake said.

The city’s action against Drake stemmed from the church’s use of a makeshift patio as a sleeping area for the homeless. The city won an injunction and the church is no longer using the patio for sleeping, Drake said.

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes