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Downtown urban parishes, outreach, and the Great Recession

Downtown urban parishes, outreach, and the Great Recession

The Café’s own Saturday blogger, The Very Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, is among Phoenix religious leaders reflecting on continuing outreach and service in a tough economy for The Downtown Devil (an Arizona State University publication).

“People are very generous,” Knisely said. “Even if they have taken a pay cut, they still continue to support the church at the same level because they know the money is being used to do critically important things in the community.”

[Trinity Cathedral] is also involved in Habitat for Humanity, Millennium Development Goals and overseas ministries in Africa, Haiti and Southern Mexico. Overseas projects are not under the same category as local outreach programs in the budget.

Knisely hopes the percentage of the church budget spent on outreach programs eventually reaches 50 percent. Until then, he has no intention of letting the economy affect the programs.

“We will not cut outreach because of budget shortfalls. That’s non-negotiable,” Knisely said. “That’s what God tells us we have to do. We’re here to give food to people. We’re not here necessarily to hire another secretary.”

Also profiled are ministries of Grace Lutheran Church and Roosevelt Community Church.


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Of course, hiring another secretary would also feed someone, and in a way that is more ennobling than free food. We do free food (and clothes) at my church, too, but it’s ancillary to the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. It’s not “why we’re here.” If giving away food is the church’s raison d’etre, why have a priest?

Doug Taylor-Weiss

Doug – sorry to be so long in approving your comments but we had to hunt up your name first. ~ed.

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