March 8, 2010
In general I think the church is right here. That doesn't mean it shouldn't try to minimize any disturbance that it can. But zoning laws should not be used to prevent a church from doing it job as a church.
It seems like a case of over-reacting at first thought. I think there could be a question if anything has actually happened. Have any of the homeless actually done anything wrong to the community besides just being there? If so then perhaps the church should consider the witness they have with their neighbors, but if not then it seems like a case of discrimination just because they are homeless.
If the locals are offended by the presence of the homeless in their neighborhood, they should do the following:<br><br>A. Educate themselves, their neighbors, their friends and families about homelessness, and why people in this economy find themselves homeless - preferably by actually engaging the homeless in conversation, but also through NGOs and nonprofits that advocate for the rights and needs of the homeless.<br><br>B. Call those who represent them at the local, state, and Federal level and demand economic and social policies that promote job growth, affordable housing, mental health care, basic health insurance for all, redistribution of wealth, and social justice in general.<br><br>C. Press *their* churches to reach out to the homeless as well, and to advocate for greater social justice by prophetically calling those Christians whom God has blessed with wealth to redistribute their wealth to those our society has left behind.<br><br>Simply pushing the homeless out of their neighborhood will not make them any less homeless. The fact that they want to do this is a sign that they don't want to confront the elephant in the room: The same economic system that allows some to be successful also keeps others down. God <i>demands</i> that we as Christians work to change that system by redistributing wealth (whether through the government or not) and working for more justice, equitability, and sustainability. To simply ignore the problem - or, worse yet, try to push it out of our sight - is to spit in the face of those of God's children whom our economic system has left behind, and ultimately to spit in the face of God God's-self.
I would like a detailed explanation of what exactly an appropriately zoned location for feeding people who are hungry might be. If it turns out to be "down by the railroad tracks, or in an abandoned warehouse district" then there is something wrong with the zoning laws. Anyway, if ALL churches fed homeless people at the same time, then there wouldn't be large crowds at any one church. They would all go their neighborhood church to be fed. Perhaps people in the neighborhood could reduce the density of the crowd by each inviting one of the people near the end of the line over to their house for breakfast.
1. Church should hire an attorney to investigate if there is any religious discrimination happening. Our church had to do that during our building project. <br><br>2. If you give them homeless homes, there will be no homeless.
It's pretty sad to read a comment that calls the homeless a "blight". I'd be willing to bet that not one of these people chose to be homeless or hungry any more than someone chooses to get cancer. Would cancer victims also create blight in their precious community? Kudos to the church for doing what it right in the eyes of our Lord and shame on those who let their own selfishness prevent them from seeing the good that is being done.
Hopefully there have been open meetings at the church where the neighbors were invited to hear the church's sense of mission and description of their Saturday service to the poor; a sudden influx of people not usually present in the neighborhood can make people anxious.That being said, how far do those being served have to travel to get to the "upscale neighborhood"?<br>It does seem like a case of NIMBY---which is losing lots of credibility in an economy that truly is affecting every back yard. <br>There's good info on the church's website.
I think the church should consider the witness they have with their neighbors, absolutely.<br><br>Are they the kind of church that will allow well-heeled neighbors to ignore the children of God who've been kicked in the face by our economic and social system, or are they the kind of church that will prophetically keep confronting those around them with the reality of the injustice that system causes?<br><br>Will they show the love of Christ to <i>everyone</i>, or just to those whom God has blessed with wealth and privilege?<br><br>The witness the church (and the Church as a whole) needs to present here isn't just making nice in hopes that some of the neighbors might come into worship some Sunday; it's displaying the prophetic love of Christ for those whom society has left behind and the confrontational love of Christ for those who participate in or ignore the oppression of others. <br><br>If those in the neighborhood are made uncomfortable by this church's attempt to do some measure of justice, <i>that's great news</i> - because perhaps that discomfort will spur some of them to consider how Christ's message challenges the economic and social system reinforced by upscale neighborhoods like that one, and perhaps join the followers of Christ in working for justice.
To quote the eminent early 20th-century theologian, "Blind" Willie Johnson...<br><br>"If I had my way, I'd tear this building down." But two cheers for Rev Dottie.
I agree 100% with your comment. Living in Chile I know that kind of rejection to church activities and, I'm sure is related to discrimination and persecution to a church that is trying to behave in Christ way. That kind of witnessing hits very strongly in the conscience of people who care only of themselves. It would be a pity that a church quit doing what is right in order to satisfy selfish human beings.
That's pretty sad. It definitely reminds me of a verse in Psalm 17 in the Amplified Bible: "They are enclosed in their own prosperity and have shut up their hearts to pity." It's really sad that people are so unwilling to help the poor because it might impose some hardship upon them.
Grace unto you all i think that we should have more churches that take care their own like this church is it is a lot of our churches that can do more for the people and don't but i say this they shall have their day what is a matter with our laws it seems to me that the laws are moving backward in stead of forward they need a upgrade even if they move to another area they probably complain about the same thing what is wrong with our neighbor meaning our neighbor can be any one not just the guy next door god say love thou neighbors as we love our selves.who ever they are that is doing the complaining you never know they me have to stand in that very line one day that the problem they get a little something and think they are better then other god give it and he will take it away times are hard and we all need to stick together in times like these what is wrong with our people god will have the last say so in this god bless all.
To be really balanced, in any crowd that needs help, there probably will be a few scam artists. Anything good and worthy can and will be abused. But we can either shut down every good thing to prevent abuse, or we can do what we need to do, and are called to do, knowing some abuse will occur. Some reasonable measures to identify obvious mooches aren't all bad -- but that can take more time and effort than it is worth too. I learned the rule, we don't care about the money (or the food), but we care a lot that they think we're stupid easy marks." Yes, brother, I know what time of day it is, and sure, you can have a sandwich like everyone else."
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