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Stanfield churches speak out

Moral outrage at recent illegal activity had residents packing into the Stanfield Town Hall earlier this month.
At the town council’s last meeting, more than 20 people from two local churches squeezed into the council chambers to protest illegal gambling uncovered at a bar down the street recently. More church members waited outside because the room was packed wall to wall.
“We want it to be known that gambling activity, that drinking, that the bar itself is not needed in Stanfield,” said Clint Lewey, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church.
Both he and members of Coyle Baptist Church told councilors they were aghast at what was discovered in Stanfield last month.
About the middle of May, several people — including former Stanfield councilman Jason Smith and current Oakboro councilman Ernest Broadway — were caught gambling at Morgan’s Tavern, Stanfield’s only bar.
Alcohol Law Enforcement is now investigating claims that the gambling was happening there on a regular basis and gamblers are likely to face charges as well.
“It’s despicable that it’s people of leadership who are doing these things,” Lewey said. “These are the people who should be setting a higher example for people to follow.”
Pastors pointed to this as evidence of how letting one vice into the community — drinking — led to another — gambling.
“It’s a slippery slope,” Lewey said. “When that place (Morgan’s Tavern) was opened we were told… it was going to be a place where people could go relax, just get a hot meal, have a drink, that’s the end of it. But it was nothing but a bar, that’s all it ever was.”
In light of that, they asked the council to put an end to both drinking and gambling in Stanfield however they could.
“The reason we’re here is because we believe that we need God’s blessings upon our lives, our town, our communities, our schools, our homes. Everything,” Lewey said. “And when we open the doors and have things like this come in it’s robbing the blessings of God off of people.”
Particularly when it comes to the next generation, both pastors emphazised.
Gathered with the church members were about a dozen children, ages ranging from toddler to preteen.
“I want it to be known that these faces here, all around, are the ones who will pay the tab for things like that,” Lewey said. “When a community refuses to say, ‘That’s not happening here,’ it’s going to affect these.”
To bring that point home, the pastors took the kids outside after their speeches to lead them in hymms just outside Town Hall. The songs could be heard inside throughout the rest of the meeting.
“We just want it to be known that we’re not happy,” Lewey said. “We want to live in a place that … (puts) up a fuss when things like that happen in our little town.”
Councilors did not say anything in response to the pastors’ comments.
However, in the past they have noted that there is little they can do about the sale of alcohol in Stanfield. Residents approved liquor by the drink through a popular referendum in 2004 and the town cannot legally restrict it.
As for gambling, it is already illegal in the state so there is little legal support the town can lend there.
Still, the town did pass a zoning law last year to severely restrict where private clubs (which most small town bars classify as) can operate. Now there are only about three or four tracts of land where such a business can open in Stanfield.
Moreover, even as the children sang outside, councilors also discussed a set of police department repairs that included painting Proverbs 29:25 on a newly fixed wall.
“It’ll be good to see all that done,” Councilman James Griffin said.

Contact Shannon Beamon at 704-982-0816 or shannon.beamon@stanlynewspress.com.