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Coming Soon… An Episcopal Opportunity!

Coming Soon… An Episcopal Opportunity!

by Tom Sine

An Unprecedented Housing Crisis

President Biden extended housing eviction for more than 7 million households in the United States until the end of July 2021.

Brandon Moore and his wife lost their jobs and they have six kids. They have received at least three eviction notices. Come August 1, 2021, the Moores will be among an unprecedented 7 million households that will be evicted from their homes.

Many of us have gotten vaccinated to protect us from the pandemic. We are also joining a huge number of Americans who are moving from languishing to flourishing. Many of our churches are also beginning to shift from Zoom worship to returning to our sanctuaries. While many of us have the pandemic behind us, millions of our neighbors are still struggling with the pandemic recession. Starting August 1, 2021, we could witness unprecedented housing evictions, unlike anything we have seen in the United States before.

It is doubtful that federal, state, and local initiatives will be able to fully address this emerging crisis. All of our churches need to join congregations that are already addressing this growing homeless crisis in the US.

Saint Timothys Discovered An Episcopal Opportunity

St. Timothys is located in the small town of Brookings, Oregon that has had a chronic problem of inadequate housing. In 1985, the church opened a food bank. In 2009, they joined other congregations in starting a revolving soup kitchen to provide for the homeless in their community.

Rev. Bernie Lindley, Vicar of St. Timothy’s, reported, “The COVID-19 took a toll on peoples financial and mental health, he said, and houses that were once rented to year-round residents are now second homes for the wealthy or short-term rentals through Airbnb. A recent count found 121 homeless living in the ZIP code that covers Brookings…”. St. Timothy’s allows the homeless people to park their cars in their parking lots and use church bathrooms and showers.

With more people living in cars and tents, unable to access basic necessities, St. Timothys stepped up its ministry to the homeless, starting an advocacy team called Brookings CORE Response about three years ago. Team members help homeless people sign up for affordable housing with lists, get identification cards, obtain benefits (including COVD-19 stimulus checks), do laundry… the church has also hosted COVID-19 vaccine clinics.”

In spite of some community resistance to their efforts, St. Timothy views this as an Episcopal opportunity. People ask, why does St. Timothy’s care for the homeless? Rev. Lindley, reading from Mathew 25, said,‘Whatever you do for the least of these’ – of course, thats our guiding passage in Scripture… When you look at the life of Jesus Christ, it all involved healing, feeding, and teaching. And we want to emulate our Savior.”

As your Episcopal Church joins others in returning to your sanctuary, could you also join other congregations, like St. Timothys, in responding to the opportunity to be the compassion of Christ to the huge number of families that are likely to be evicted in all our communities as we race into August 2021? Share how you and your church plan to respond to this opportunity for compassionate response with your local and Episcopal news outlets to encourage others also to respond with creative compassion.

Dr. Tom Sine 

twsine@gmail.com

www.newchangemakers.com

Co-author with Dwight J. Friesen of 2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change, published by Fortress Press.


Image: Melanie Lim via unsplash.com

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