Archive for June, 2014

Hospitality for All

June 18, 2014

In the past couple of weeks I’ve visited several places in the greater Covington/ Cincinnati area that have been created to help the homeless and the working poor in the area. I wanted to share some reflections I have about these places and the idea of hospitality for all.

The first place I visited is an organization in Cincinnati called “City Link,” a ministry of several large urban churches. City Link is a “one stop shop” for the working poor and underemployed, with 5 main areas of help that people we know as the working poor– those who work but are barely getting by, who struggle just to get from day to day (which makes it extremely difficult to improve their circumstances.) City Link offers help with Education, Childcare, Transportation (they have a 5 bay garage to refurbish donated autos) Housing, and Social Services (Psychological and Spiritual Counseling, AA, NA, and so forth.) They also offer dental and optical services on site through volunteer efforts of local dentists and ophthalmologists. City Link is housed in a wonderful facility that is clean, bright and welcoming; through the efforts of the staff a growing number of clients are being served at the facility.

The next place I visited is in Covington, at the corner of Madison and 10th Street– a place called “The Cornerstone Project.”  The Cornerstone Project is a ministry of Avenue Community Church and is supported by various churches and agencies in the area, including Union and Lakeside Presbyterian Churches (and recently the Presbytery of Cincinnati gave a grant to the project through those churches.) The Cornerstone Project is a ministry, a welcoming place for the homeless and working poor; they serve a hot meal each Tuesday and a sandwich meal each Thursday, at no cost to anyone who comes in for food. There is also a grocery give-away on the second Saturday of each month, fellowship and coffee each day from 8:00- 11:00 am; children’s ministry on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month; church services, Bible Studies, Spiritual Support groups, NA and AA group and so forth. This organization operates on a shoe string, in a run-down building in downtown Covington, but is no less effective and helpful to the people in the community.

Today I visited “Our Daily Bread”, a third organization whose mission is to provide help and hospitality to homeless and working poor in the greater Cincinnati area. Located across from Findlay Market in downtown Cincinnati, this is a 7 day a week ministry that offers a hot meal at mid-day, Monday- Friday, to anyone who comes in the door; it also takes meals to local senior citizens who are unable to leave their homes. They offer a Kid’s Club afterschool program three days per week as well as a weekend grocery program to supplement families’ food supplies over the weekend. Our Daily Bread also offers a place for people to congregate, to use a public restroom, and to play cards or just “be”, in a safe, air conditioned/ heated space. People in crisis may be helped by the Emergency Assistance Program for food, shelter, clothing and other needs someone may have in a crisis situation; it provides jobs to individuals who have trouble finding work due to mental health, addiction, legal or other issues as well.

I’m sure that these are not the only agencies of this sort in the Greater Northern KY/ Eastern Indiana/ Cincinnati area. These, however, are all ecumenical, faith based organizations; and it’s good to see what people of faith can do when they come together and share the load. Hospitality is one of the most important things we can offer to people, especially people who are struggling just to live day-to-day. Jesus said to his disciples, “when you welcome one of the least of these, you welcome me” and that applies as much to us today as it did when Jesus was alive. Somehow our society has gotten the idea that people who are poor brought it  on themselves– they’re lazy, they’re criminals, they’d rather live on welfare than work, they aren’t deserving of dignity. The truth is, many people who are on the streets or who struggle to get by on part time minimum wage jobs are mentally ill, or have grown up in a cycle of poverty that doesn’t allow for anyone to break free easily. Another truth is that the African American community is vulnerable to this at a much greater rate than other ethnicities; and yet, we stand by and watch people struggle because they are different that we are. But hospitality should be available for all; our doors should be open to the least of these because that’s what Christ calls us to do.

Advertisements

GA Reflections

June 18, 2014
Status Update
By Becky Lindsay
 
Monday AM at GA – traditionally the time for open hearings in the committee meetings. Anyone, Presbyterian or not, registered at GA can speak before a committee that is handling overtures with issues he/she feels strongly about. Of course, each person is allotted 90 seconds to speak, so the speaker must focus her/his message.

The open hearings are where grassroots conversations take place. They allow people to air opinions. They create a forum for discussion of issues. They may even have an influence on the work of the committee.

I chose to visit the Committee on Middle East Issues where the question of whether the PC(USA) should divest itself of stock it holds in companies such as Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard, companies that build equipment that Israel uses in its control of Palestinian communities. For instance, Caterpillar builds the bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian houses.

As a commissioner at GA in 2004, I served on the committee that first called for divestment. Actually, just that the PC(USA) study the possibility of divestment. A firestorm, that the committee had not expected, erupted. The Jewish community felt betrayed as it had always considered the PC(USA) “on its side.” Presbyterian-Jewish relations suffered across the board.

Eleven years later, we find that the issue is still on the docket, but along with the call for divestment are voices, even organizations, that call for a more peaceful resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma. The people who spoke before the committee today were evenly divided along the lines of divest or do not divest. Some call for positive investment in both Israeli and Palestinian companies. Some feel the answer lies in conversation and communication. Surprisingly, there were a number of Jewish speakers who were advocating for divestment.

Whether or not I would vote today for divestment as I did eleven years ago, I don’t know. I see value in all the efforts to solve the problem—the shock value of divestment which brought a change in South Africa and the efforts at conversation. I am impressed, though, that what the committee did in 2004 forced the PC(USA) into actually dealing with the problem on an active basis. I pray that whatever action the PC(USA) takes at this General Assembly, it will lend its weight to the efforts for peace in the Middle East.

Thoughts on GA (by guest blogger Becky Lindsay)

June 16, 2014
10390950_675860502463282_1363531137073696273_n 10403450_675859892463343_2702398881788769179_n 10425130_675861692463163_8679563249659121953_n 10426784_675861472463185_7631015545969467044_n 10479736_675861795796486_3153153581092849400_n
First of all, GA is not for the faint hearted. Lodged 54 stories at the Marriott in the Renaissance Center (Detroit) with a precipitous view, a half mile from the Cobo Center where GA is happening, and a mile from the Fort Street Presbyterian Church where events are scheduled. Had a delicious, authentic Mediterranean dinner at FSPC with the More Light people. A different attitude this GA. LGBTQ people are feeling they are now included in the PC(USA). PTL!

By consent agenda in the first plenary session, the revision of the Heidelberg Catechism passed the final hurdle in the revision process. Jack, you can rest easy now. The Confessions are now returned to their proper place. LGBTQ people, the mistranslation of the word, immoral to homosexual, has been corrected. PTL! “It is impossible until it happens.” Nelson Mandala. It has happened!

Heath Rada, former president of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, VA, was elected as Moderator last night on the first ballot—which was a good thing. All of the modern electronics—internet, and voting remotes—failed despite many attempts to make them work. The assembly was reduced to voting by paper ballots! Anybody want to count 600 or 700 ballots more than once? Hope they get the electronics working or this could be a very long GA.

 

A Summer Walk Through the Labyrinth

June 10, 2014

As I did in the winter, I took a walk through the labyrinth with my camera on a recent early spring morning.

See “A Summer Walk Through the Labyrinth” at http://youtu.be/RF-dgoNMQP0.

 

labyrinth : round maze isolated on white