“The eternal destiny of human beings will be measured by how much or how little solidarity we have displayed with the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and the oppressed. In the end we will be judged in terms of love.”
Leonardo Boff: Brazilian Liberation Theologian
Two weeks ago I served with the Bishop at All Saint’s Indian Mission which was a wonderful experience. The Bishop asked me to stay after the service for conversation with the members of the community, and I was asked about the diaconate. To be clear, it is a question that I love to respond to…. My call and understanding of the role as a deacon is to be a bridge between the temporal world and the faith community, and to move members of the community out of their pews, out of the buildings, into the world to be the hands, feet, ears, eyes, and voice on God’s behalf. Certainly there are numerous opportunities and ways to be involved in the world…from feeding and sheltering, to transforming the systems of government towards God’s peace filled reign of heaven.
All Saint’s-First Nations Kitchen is without a doubt a committed loving response to God’s call. I was thankful to be there, and to hear their stories, challenges, and successes. Their Elders knew that Saint John’s community has been and continues to be a significant partner for nearly 30 years; they shared their love and blessing.
Recently on John Corlett’s invitation I attended with others a fund raiser for Urban HomeWorks….I was impressed with their mission, presentation, stories, and their vision. Since then I have attended a couple of ZOOM meetings organized by them, specifically on the availability of decent affordable housing for first nations peoples in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Again, I was impressed with their vision and plan, and the engagement of first nations peoples in the conversation. I came away optimistic with their plan.
I invited John to coffee, to find out more about his ministry and Saint John’s involvement with Urban HomeWorks… after a great conversation I asked him if he would write it up…
“So, what’s going on with Urban Homeworks/affordable housing these days?” is a question I am frequently asked by St Johns parishioners. Urban Homeworks (UHW) has been St Johns’ affordable housing partner for over 13 years with workdays on the second Saturday of every month until March of 2020 when workdays were suspended due to Covid.
While St Johns work crews were sidelined by Covid shut down, Urban Homeworks staff were still busy. Their work providing dignified, stable, affordable housing continued and expanded into two new frontiers. The first was assisting residents learn about and sign up for the Covid related rental assistance programs. UHW teamed with other affordable housing agencies like Aeon to share resources and expertise about Covid Programs.
Second, UHW put additional emphasis on equitable home ownership avenues. With goals of helping residents move from renters to home ownership using homeownership as a tool to build wealth and pursue racial equity. UHW’s role as an advocate for home ownership programs continues to develop.
We returned to workdays in April of 2021 with intentionally limited crews of 5 people masked and minding social distancing. At the end of the summer of 2022, we are back to crews of up to 15 volunteers on the second Saturday every month. Our typical workday includes preparing apartments for new residents – cleaning, painting, light repairs and yard work.
Other ways St Johns and UHW partner are attending UHW’s annual Perpetuate the Hope fundraiser and creating Holiday Baskets and cards. We continue to explore how St Johns can become more involved in the equitable home ownership work. St Johns members are always welcome to participate. Contact John Corlett at firstname.lastname@example.org. 612-839-6566
We are blessed by John’s leadership, Urban HomeWorks, and the many members of this community that have reached out of the church into the world on God’s behalf. We are blessed with all of the leaders, like John, that have led and organized us as God’s agents in a broken world.
Closing with another quote from Leonardo Boff:
“Solidarity, compassion, caring, communion and loving. Such values and inner powers can lay the foundation of a new paradigm of civilization, the civilization of the humanity reunited in the Common House. On the Planet Earth our mission is to celebrate the greatness of Creation and connect it again to the Core where it came from and to where it will go, with care, lightness, joy, reverence and love.”
May God bless you with foolishness enough to believe that you too can make a difference in a broken world…with reverence and love, Rex