Thanks to all who participated in this year’s Fall Stewardship Focus, all who turned in a pledge, and all who give to St. Peter’s. It was a rich month of focusing on our role as God’s stewards, called to keep the blessings of our lives in motion.
This month I wanted to report back on the very important discernment work that our Homelessness Focus Group has done this past year. It has been amazing to walk with this group to this point.
We started with a question: How do we make a positive impact on the lives of those threatened by and/or experiencing homelessness in our neighborhood through friendship and compassion?
Then we took a year to learn from practitioners, leaders, neighbors, social workers, and homeless people themselves and from our learnings, we are setting forth with three objectives for the coming year:
- “Skivvy Sunday” - Stay tuned for this exciting new high holy day at St. Peter’s. What we learned is that while people are eager to give canned food and socks, many churches are too shy to collect new (I can’t stress this enough, NEW!) underwear, which is something that would make a huge difference to our homeless neighbors who utilize Showers of Blessing or at TACO. So, at some point in the coming year, we’ll be doing an underwear collection!
- Pledge our Giving to Ocean Beach Emergency Food - OBEF is one of the main resources that poor people and people facing homelessness have in Ocean Beach. We’ve been a supporter of this community resource for a long time but have never given them a firm commitment. Right now, we are assessing our giving and by the end of the year, will give OBEF a firm financial commitment so that they know what they can count on for the coming year.
- Extend Interfaith Shelter Network to three weeks - IFSN is a tremendous ministry that works with temporarily homeless people to get them back into housing. We’ve been participating in hosting this resource for years and this year our hope is to run it for THREE, instead of two weeks with this caveat: we want to involve new neighbors, friends, and community partners in helping us host the third week. We believe that God does profound work in and for the lives of homeless people and we want to invite other people into the good work that God is doing!
We also have a longer term goal of instigating the creation of a resource center, much like the Compass Station in Pacific Beach which would serve to connect homeless people with resources that could move them into housing and out of poverty. This would not be something that we house or run, but that could exist in our community for the wellbeing of the whole community. Right now, this looks like building relationships with other churches and faith leaders who might have similar hopes and continuing to entrust this desire to God, who really has the power to make such a thing happen!
I’m excited by what we’ve committed to as a group and look forward to how these goals play out in the coming year. But the thing I’m most excited by is the way the Homelessness Focus Group took their time, in prayer, study and conversation to come to clarity instead of rushing hastily into something ineffective and/or getting so overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem that they folded. It has truly been a remarkable exercise in walking by faith. Stay tuned for more!