Tag Archives: Christian social teachings

Listening to the Homeless in Monroe Park : Their Thoughts on the Park Closing

Monroe Park is the oldest park in the city of Richmond.  It is centrally located and utilized by VCU students, downtown residents and has become a hub for the homeless population of our city.  There are plans to renovate the park which would require it’s closing for up to two years.  The plans for the park’s future are impressive with a new playground, outdoor theater , more functional grounds , restoration of the fountain, improved restroom facilities and maintenance of aging infrastructure under the park.  The plans are exciting and will certainly improve the attractiveness of the park and our city.

The issue is not whether or not the park needs a face lift, the issue is what will happen to the hundreds of indigent and impoverished individuals who congregate at the park and the Christians who connect to the homeless by providing services in the park?

I decided the best way to understand this issue was to visit with the folks who were in the park today.  We met many homeless friends, some who were unsheltered, some sheltered, some formerly homeless and some newly homeless.  Some came to get food and clothing, others for the fellowship.  Some played chess, others gathered for conversations on benches, while others napped in the grass or beneath the massive trees.

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Filed under Stories from the Street, Urban Ministry

Julie Clawson’s Call to Care

I have often felt somewhat alone in Christian circles as a woman who feels called to write about issues of social justice. However, over the past several months, I have begun to meet a number of women who share my passion, some in the flesh but many more via their on-line writing. One of these women is Julie Clawson who is the author of “Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of our Daily Choices.” While most of my insights arise out of the context of the inner city, I recognize that the injustices I witness pale in comparison to the suffering of people around the world.

In a post titled “Caring While We Still Can” which appears on Julie Clawson’s site One Hand Clapping, Julie brings the stark images of gang rape and child molestation directly to us.  However, rather than simply leave us with the horrific images, Julie challenges us stating:

“While America is in a dither about being offended by the presence of Muslims in our midst, this is what is happening in the world right now. We talk about fearing terrorism, but this is terrorism in the flesh. At some point we have to move beyond talk. We have to stop watching films like Hotel Rwanda just so we can seem caring and enlightened at our church “God at the Movies” night, and start working to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Hatred, power, and money are all still fueling atrocities – we have to get over our poor track record of only caring about such things in hindsight. Feeling bad about the Holocaust, or Rwanda, or Bosnia, or Japanese internment camps is trendy years later. What takes guts is standing up and doing something about such things as they happen. That is never popular, and will get you called some nasty names as you encourage society to change and care. But what does it say about the state of our souls if we don’t at least try?”

Julie goes on in her post to provide us with several ways we can help fight against the forces that create the injustices she has writes about.  Julie’s suggestions require that we think about the systemic causes of injustice and challenge us to link our own behavior with these unintended outcomes.  I hope you all will read the full article and prayerfully consider how we as Christians can respond.

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Filed under missional church