out of sight out of mind

A church in Phoenix was recently ordered by a judge to stop feeding the poor in their community due to zoning rules. In short, it wasn’t the serving of food per se that was a violation but the fact that the food was free [ie. charity]. Apparently, in Phoenix, you can serve food to others in residential areas, just not if they’re really hungry and really need it. The pastor of the church posed the following:

How hungry? What about our potlucks? What about our Christmas dinner or Easter Sunrise breakfast? When I eat that, I am pretty hungry…is that allowed? What about the coffee and donuts we serve on Sunday mornings? Can we eat that if we are hungry? And then there is the other question, “How poor?” How poor do we have to be to be considered a “charity?” Federal-poverty-guidelines-poor? Not-able-to-make-the-house-payment-poor? Or, how about not-able-to-pay-off-the-credit-card-poor?

In all fairness, an increase in undesirable behaviors, including panhandling, burglary, public intoxication and vandalism, etc. caused concern among church neighbors who certainly have a right to feel safe in their homes and community. However, could the ruling be more about controlling the homeless population? By restricting services from residential areas it is possible to keep “unsightly” homeless people out of certain parts of cities and concentrate them in others. As the old saying goes: out of sight, out of mind.

Let’s not be naive — homelessness is a problem many of us [in Phoenix, Chicago or elsewhere] want to ignore or deny. There are no easy answers but it’s sad how a church that is willing to help people in need gets forced to stop. Our church does a lot of work with the homeless in community and this kind of thing makes me nervous.

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re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Ok...so you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
January 2010
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Thoughts gone by

"No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking." Voltaire



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