Press Releases

Breaking: Court Orders Tennessee Utility Company to Restore Power to Homeless Ministry

April 27, 2023

News Release
For Immediate Release: 4.27.23
Contact: John Manning,
Direct: 972-941-4453

Breaking: Court Orders Tennessee Utility Company to Restore Power to Homeless Ministry
Attorneys representing ministry asked court to force company to turn power back on before more harm done to clients.

Westmoreland, TN—The Circuit Court for Sumner County, Tennessee today issued a temporary restraining order after the law firm Anderson & Reynolds PLC and First Liberty Institute asked the court to order the Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation to restore power to The Father’s House, a homeless ministry of Living Water Full Gospel Church.  Late last week, without notice or legal reason, Tri-County shut the power off to the church and homeless shelter.

You can read the complaint here and the order here.

Steve Anderson of Anderson & Reynolds said, “Tri-County Electric is abusing the power it wields as a utility provider and forcing the men who rely on the Father’s House to support their sobriety back on the streets, putting their very lives in jeopardy.  We are grateful that the court stepped in to prevent further harm to men who are already struggling with addiction.”

“It’s outrageous that Tri-County Electric cut off and refused to restore power to The Father’s House,” added Ryan Gardner, Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “The indifference to the health and well-being of The Father’s House residents is inhumane.  A mistake by the electric company may be explainable, but since being informed of its error, Tri-County has refused to take responsibility or do the right thing.”

In January, the same attorneys demanded the city of Westmoreland (TN) withdraw a “cease and desist letter” preventing The Father’s House from operating and had been working with local officials to ensure the ministry could continue.  Living Water Full Gospel Church operates a ministry called The Father’s House Sober Living, which provides housing and support for men seeking to escape drug addiction.  In August 2022, city officials sent the church a cease and desist letter based on an alleged violation of the city’s building code. Since January, attorneys for The Father’s House have been helped by the Tennessee Attorney General’s office to resolve the underlying issues with the city.  However, despite those ongoing conversations, last Friday, Tri-County Electric unilaterally and without notice to any party, including the state or city, shut off the power to Living Water’s facility.

According to the complaint, “[B]ecause Living Water is no longer suitable to house residents, it has been forced to house its resident in a hotel until power is restored.  However, housing the resident in this hotel is threatening the resident’s sobriety because of it was a site he previously frequented to engage in illicit drug use and because drug use continues to occur at the hotel.  As an alternative, Living Water and the Ministry temporarily paid another member of their ministry team to house the resident for a couple of days, but they had no choice but to move the resident back to the hotel on April 26, 2023.  Plaintiffs have also suffered loss of the use and enjoyment of the Property for religious purposes.  To date, Plaintiffs have been forced to cancel or greatly reduce the size of multiple religious gatherings.”

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact John Manning at or by calling 972-941-4453.

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