You can never have too many shepherds guarding the flock

Humboldt ministers' outrage over Sunday morning sales of packaged alcohol comes from an obligation to protect. But they're off-base to infer it would lead the town to moral decline.



July 14, 2021 - 9:43 AM

A large crowd attended the July 12 meeting of Humboldt City Council. Many were there to speak against Sunday morning sales of packaged alcohol. Photo by Susan Lynn / Iola Register

Upset at the thought of Sunday morning sales of packaged alcohol, a sizable crowd attended Monday night’s Humboldt Council meeting to voice their opposition.

Pastor Jerry Neeley of First Baptist spoke before the council, saying alcohol sales on Sunday in general go against the town’s moral fabric, but especially during morning church services. 

“I find that offensive,” he said. “We must remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”

Neeley also said such acts go against Humboldt’s reputation as a God-fearing community.

“This is the home of Biblesta, a celebration intended to highlight God and country.”

In an accompanying letter to council members, Neeley wrote that as a spiritual leader he is obligated to  warn them of what he perceives as a moral decline in the community.

“I feel we as a community need to be awakened to the spiritual blindness that seems to be infecting our families and neighbors. The result of allowing this to happen, this quieting of God’s message, is devastating.”

Neeley predicted Sunday morning sales would tarnish Humboldt’s image.

Pastor Jerry Neeley of First Baptist. (REGISTER/Susan Lynn)

“Is this the new ‘Face of Humboldt’ we truly want to present? Rather than promoting God to a community, would we encourage drunkenness, alcoholism, financial insecurities? Will this bring about a Humboldt we are proud to show our families and friends, visitors? Is this the Humboldt we hope our children return to when they’ve grown?”

After hearing from others in the same vein, council members agreed not to pursue the matter.

Just a month earlier, however, they leaned the other way, after hearing the appeals of two local liquor store owners who complained they were losing sales to the metropolitan areas on game days. 

“We can’t ask people to spend money in Humboldt unless we give them the option to do so,” said Mayor Nobby Davis at the time.

Both discussions prove that good decisions are rarely made in a vacuum. And the best  answer may lie somewhere in the middle.

FROM OUR perspective, the “face of Humboldt” shows a lot of promise, thanks in large part to its younger generations and their recent revitalization efforts.

Such actions are proof  they believe in community, including taking on leadership roles by serving on the school board, city council and getting politically involved.

And yes, by all appearances, they favor beer gardens at public events and perhaps even a fanciful drink at a Sunday brunch.

But to equate this with moral decline is unjust.

Because over the last 15 years Biblesta has attracted fewer and fewer people, forward-thinkers are right to want to expand Humboldt’s appeal to include boutique-style shopping, dining, lodging and entertainment.

At the same time, we sympathize with the ministers and their lament of thinning congregations. Universally, people are turning away from traditional-style religion.

We believe that houses of worship, much like schools, play an important role in society because they hold us accountable to one another.

It’s when we feel that nobody cares, that mistakes get made.

That was the real message that came through Monday night — a desire to “shepherd the flock.” With compassion like that, Humboldt is in good hands.