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Responding to those who approach us for money on the street

Responding to those who approach us for money on the street

Jesus instructed his disciples to give to those who asked of them. Does that extend to panhandlers? Churches in Sacramento find themselves mulling this issue.

Every week, many worshippers are confronted with another sign of the troubling economy: more homeless people approaching them as they enter church services.

The problem has gotten so bad in recent months that the Rev. Michael Moran of the Spiritual Life Center in midtown Sacramento addressed the issue with his congregation Sunday. “What is the correct spiritual response to this?” he asked.

Moran said that he had spoken to other concerned clergy in the area about the growing problem. Like Moran, they are struggling to do the right thing.

How do you respond to people who approach you for money on the street?

The story captures the ambivalence that many of us feel by quoting the Very Rev. Brian Baker, dean of Trinity Cathedral.

“We have a no panhandling policy,” he said, adding that his church has an active ministry to help the homeless.

“If approached, then we tell our members to refer them to clergy and they will help them,” Baker said.

But on a personal level, away from church, Baker always gives, and he refers to Jesus’ message to help the poor.

“I can’t say no,” he said. “I carry small bills around with me.”

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Father Matt Tucker

If there's no specific need, I give out a $5 bill and a $10 McDonald's gift card. I keep them clipped together.

Matt Tucker+

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Tony Magana

One of our main missions has been supporting the needs of the homeless for more than 20 years.Giving them cash and then forgetting about them is destructive and not true agape.They need supervision,food,clothing,medical care,protection from abuse,and a ministry of presence more then cash. Faith communities can make ecumenical partnerships and create rewarding ministries not just for those being served but also for the servers. God does not call us to do any less.

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Dcn Scott Elliott

For a Lenten discipline this year, I took on on giving to everyone who asked, just like Jesus said (Matt 5:42). I thought I had never taken almsgiving seriously enough. And like all really good Lenten disciplines this one has continued well beyond Easter to this very day.(The other was that I gave up shaving my head, which also continues.)

I had a largeish number of golden dollar coins and dedicated them to the purpose. I keep a roll in the car (for on-and-off ramps and so on), and keep some in my pocket when I go downtown or other places I'm likely to be asked.

I am surprised to find that I still have some left: I did NOT go through them like hotcakes. I intend to continue this for years to come.

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