There’s a pretty significant cold spell settling down across the east and mid sections of the US right now. The overnight cold is so bad that many homeless people are at risk of literally freezing to death. The situation is more dire for newly homeless people who haven’t learned the necessary street smarts to survive these sorts of days and nights.
When churches in Bethlehem PA began to prepare to care for the homeless during these cold nights, they called the city to see about opening up city facilities. Being told that the Mayor would only be willing to open four jail cells for four street people to sleep overnight, the Episcopal parishes in the Lehigh Valley organized their own response and have opened their doors to get people out of the cold. Enlisting as many other groups as they could, they have managed to open at least three shelters across the entire Lehigh Valley for the cold spell, and have begun working to work on longer term solutions to such emergency conditions.
The Rev Scott Allen of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Allentown is quoted in this story about his congregation’s decision to open their parish hall in response:
“‘We are being intentionally naive in doing this,” he said. ”We don’t know what to expect, but our primary mission is to get people out of the exposure to the cold for one night. This is our job in being Christians.”
There’s a second story from the area about the other Episcopal churches participating in the effort here.