Thursday, April 30, 2015

Letters from the Soul: This Month's Newsletter Column

May 2015: "Eleven Families"

Dear Church,

Beginning this year, and with the strong support of our congregation's Board of Directors, I began directing 50% of my monthly discretionary fund allocation--a line item intended for families and households in acute and immediate need on our community--to a coordinated entry fund that is jointly administered by two local Christian agencies: Love Overwhelming and Love INC (Love In the Name of Christ). 

This fund is made up of regular contributions from congregations just like us across the Kelso-Longview area in an attempt to create a much larger pool of resources with which to stem the terrible tide of homelessness that our wider community faces. For instance, we as a sole congregation could often only afford to cobble together a small amount of money to telp a family with a utilities shutoff or an eviction notice.

By contrast, though, I got to hear from Caleb Luther at Love Overwhelming at this month's Kelso-Longview Ministerial Asosciation meeting, and he notified us that just in this year so far, eight families whom were previously homeless now have permanent housing through the fund, and another three families whom would ahve been evicted have been able to keep their housing. That is eleven families still in their homes who otherwise would almost certainly be out on the streets, and that is more than what we would have been able to do by ourselves with our modest resources.

Ever since I arrived here in the summer of 2011, I have been gratified and humbled by this congregation's devotion to--and emphasis upon--mission in our local commnity, be it in partnership with Kessler Elementary School, or Community House, or Phoenix House, or the Caring Pregnancy Center. Indeed, it is one of the qualities that attracted me here and that I felt was a sign from God pushing me to accept this call. It is my fervent hope and prayer that our striving for mission on behalf of the God we know, love, and serve, will only grow stronger during our time together. The Bible is exceedingly clear on the topic of serving those of us who are poor, and of seeking permanent solutions to their plights rather than simply band-aids.

That is what my discretionanary fund sometimes was--a band-aid for much deeper wounds that required much more systematic care. Through this new coordinated entry fund, I believe we--and fellow congregations just like us--are beginning to provide a bit of that systematic care. And if you or someone you know is imminently facing homelessness, please feel free to point them in my direction, and I would be more than happy to give them the appropriate contact information to see if they are able to use coordinated entry to help stabilize their lives.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Eric

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