PURPOSE………A recent survey asked people what their impressions were of their church.  The responses were startling.  Here are some of those responses:  

“We were going through the motions.”

“Everything we did seemed to be like we were in a rut or bad routine.”  

“We stopped asking what we should be doing for fear that it would require too much effort or change.”  

These responses show striking similarities.  The people had lost a purpose for attending church.  I don’t think Jesus ever desired this to happen to his followers.  

In this weekend’s lesson from Luke 14, Jesus explains, “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile (Luke 14:34).”  The takeaway from Jesus’ teaching is that we should live and act according to our clear purpose:  following Jesus as his disciple.  

How do you make sure you’re not just going through the motions in your faith journey?  I am sure that you have great wisdom to share–I would enjoy to hear what you do!  

AIR CONDITIONING………..Yes, Peace has air conditioning now in the fellowship hall, kitchen, narthex, and the newer bathrooms!  

BELIEVE……….The adult Sunday School class is starting a new class on Sunday, September 11th at 9:45 am.  The study is based on Randy Frazee’s book, Believe.  We have ordered 60 books.  If you are interested in picking up the books see Oscar.  The cost is $5.  

WIRED WORD……….This Sunday we will be taking a look at the Wired Word topic copied down below.  As you know, this is a hot topic in our area as there are homeless in the wider community.  Study up and we will discuss more on Sunday.  Blessings!  

SCHOOL SUPPLY GIVE AWAY………The initiative to supply children with school supplies was a great success!  This year the program was able to supply 114 children/youth supplies for school.  This number is much higher than the 84 children/youth who participated last year.  Thank you for your contributions!  

 

Cities Implement ‘Housing First’ Initiative

In the News

“… People are worthy of a home and it is a fundamental human right to have shelter and a roof over one’s head.” So said Jamie Rogers, who ran the “Housing First” program in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. Since implementing the program, Medicine Hat claims to have virtually eliminated chronic homelessness, which means that no one has to sleep on the streets for more than 10 days before they qualify for stable housing.

Dr. Sam Tsemberis, the clinical psychologist who developed the “Housing First” model in the 1990s in New York City, said that in the past, “People had to participate in psychiatric treatment or be clean and sober in order to get housing. That was a precondition. And curing addiction or curing mental illness is still something we don’t know how to do, and that was exactly what was being asked of people. It was an impossible hurdle to jump over.”

Medicine Hat Mayor Ted Clugston explained, “But ‘Housing First’ basically is the complete opposite of that … It’s pretty hard to solve your personal problems when you’re living under a park bench.”

The Canadian city of 63,000 must be doing something right. Since 2009, Medicine Hat has helped 900 people get off the street into stable housing. The program is cost-effective, too. The city could spend up to five times as much to support a chronically homeless person than on a person who has secured a place to live.

Persuading other cities to give the model a try isn’t always easy. Some people believe that homeless people must be lazy, addicted to drugs or alcohol and/or unwilling to work.

But Kellie Tillerson, director of Employment Services at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said many vulnerable people have health problems, lack important documents they need to find work or have trouble getting benefits to which they are entitled. Others find poor choices earlier in life haunt them years later: For example, ex-felons find landing a job interview, let alone a job, nearly impossible due to employers’ reluctance to hire people with a prison record.

John Summerlot, a street outreach coordinator for the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services in Maryland, agreed. “Being homeless is a condition, not an identity,” he said. “People are homeless by circumstance.”

Someone using the pseudonym “BrandishingStupidity” commented on Reddit about his/her own experience as a homeless person for several months about a decade ago: “… it is extraordinarily difficult to maintain your humanity while being treated as less than human by society.”

One chronically homeless man told Richard Berry, the mayor of Albuquerque that no one had said a kind word to him in 25 years. Other homeless people said they would much rather work than beg to support themselves.

So the city started “There’s a Better Way,” hiring about 10 homeless unemployed people as day laborers at the rate of $9 an hour to clean up the city. The goal is to treat those at greatest risk with respect, thus preserving their dignity, while providing food and shelter to participants as needed. In less than 12 months, 932 jobs were created by the initiative, and more than 100 people have found permanent employment as a result. The twice weekly program has been successful enough that the city is expanding it to four days a week.

“Sometimes it takes a little catalyst … to stop the downward spiral, to let them catch their breath, and it’s remarkable,” Berry said. “They’ve had the dignity of work for a day; someone believed in them today.”

TWW consultant James Gruetzner, who lives in Albuquerque, comments that he’s noticed a definite uptick in panhandling over the past month or so, after a drop for a while. Jeremy Reynalds, director of Joy Junction, the largest privately run homeless shelter in the city, reports an increase in homelessness.

One homeless man told KOB4 reporter Danielle Todesco that he could make twice as much money holding up a cardboard sign than through the city’s “Better Way” program. So there’s not much incentive to take a part-time job for less. Even so, there are not enough city jobs for the number of unemployed people living on the street.

Sinan Demirel, a leader in advocacy for and service to the hungry and the homeless in the greater Seattle metropolitan area, and author of an upcoming book tentatively called Homeless in Seattle: A Local History of a National Tragedy, records that 4,500 people are homeless in King County, Washington, where Seattle is located. The historical context of the current situation there is the decline of living-wage jobs, affordable housing and adequate treatment and institutional options for the mentally ill.

As early as 1977, social worker Joe Martin reported to the Church Council of Greater Seattle that “this lack of transitional and halfway facilities results in disoriented people out on the streets. They have no friends, no home, no treatment, nothing.” Demirel writes that by the late 1970s, “Legislative efforts to stem the tide of development, preserve affordable housing, and require developers to help pay for what was being lost either failed, were struck down or not enforced, or simply not enough to have a meaningful impact on what was happening.”

Martin lamented that at the region’s major trauma center, emergency room clerks entered the acronym “PLS” (meaning “poor lost soul”) next to some of the names. Anyone with those letters next to their name was considered to be a person “who came to the ER for help but who didn’t seem to have any niche whatsoever in the society.”

Movements such as “Housing First” are intended to try to help some of those “poor lost souls” rediscover their niche in society.

More on this story can be found at these links: 

This Republican Mayor Has an Incredibly Simple Idea to Help the Homeless. And It Seems to Be Working. MSN.com
City’s Homelessness Programs Get National Attention; Some Say They Don’t Do Enough. KOB4
This Canadian City Has Solved Its Homeless Problem (video). Upworthy
Homeless In Relentless Heat. The Washington Post
Three-Part Series on Homelessness in Seattle by Sinan Demirel. Crosscut.com
Should We Give Every Homeless Person a Home? BBC.com

The Big Questions

1. Have you ever been homeless, or known someone who was? What led to that situation? What factors might increase the likelihood that a person might become homeless?

2. How is life different for the person who has no home? What ordinary tasks or activities might become more challenging? Are there any possible benefits to being without a home?

3. Is there a difference between housing and a home? What makes a house a home? Where is home for you?

4. Throughout the Bible there are many examples of nomadic life, whether by choice or by force of circumstances, natural or man-made. Where do God’s people reside? What constitutes “home” for the Christian?

5. Is shelter a human right to which everyone is entitled? Who should provide shelter for those who lack a roof over their heads? What is the role of the church in this area?