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Deacon’s Column 3.9.23

By March 9, 2023No Comments

While Lisa and I, Peter Stebinger and other clergy, were up north a few weeks ago at clergy conference, Caron Stebinger, Stacy and Michael Walters, and my dear wife Linda volunteered to transport food from a local warehouse to Saint Nicholas.  Linda later shared with me her SHEER JOY, enthusiasm, and the hard work, she experienced with the community at St Nicholas….she was so excited, so deeply fulfilled she has volunteered again.

Saint John’s has a history of mission and ministry with homelessness and food shelters. From Our Saviors Homeless Shelter to Joyce Food Shelf, All Saints Indian Mission First Nations Kitchen, to the maturing relationship with Good Courage Farms.  I encourage you to not only support these ministries with donations, but with relationships, remembering in the beginning was the conversation.  If you have not previously volunteered, plan an afternoon to share your talents at First Nations’ or Saint Nicholas. For more information check with Caron, or Linda for their personal stories.

Our Youth Group is leading and challenging us to donate both food and funds for St Nicholas Food Shelf during lent, the specifics are in the Weekly.  Let’s commit to exceed their goals of $300 and 300 pounds of food. Details are in the weekly.

My reading this lent is from Isaiah 58, I spend time daily reflecting on the challenges Isaiah provides and my response to these challenges.

Is not this the fast that I choose; to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless into your houses; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly: your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer: you shall cry for help, and he will say, here I am…

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairers of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Personal Lenten practices are fulfilling for me, and I encourage them in whatever form or content is helpful for each faith community member.

March is Minnesota Food Share Month: Consider the following data.

  • The need for food support exists in every part of our state, in every community and across all demographics. 1 in 6 of our neighbors, nearly 1 million Minnesotans, turn to hunger relief networks.
  • 28% of children and 18% of seniors receive some portion of their food from food shelves.
  • 44% of food shelf consumers live in suburbs, 34% in Minneapolis or Saint Paul, 12% in micropolitan areas such as St Cloud, Duluth, Mankato, and 10% in rural communities.
  • 63% of consumers live in households where someone worked for pay, 20% received Social Security, 19% received Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income.
  • 53% of consumers currently benefit from at least one federal program such as SNAP.

A few weeks back I met with Pablo Tapia in his office at St Nicholas at the suggestion of their rector Julie Luna. Pablo has led Asamblea de Derechos Civiles to build local and statewide immigrant justice campaigns around a wide range of issues: drivers license for all, housing, restoring voter rights, fair labor practices, and more. Our discussion centered on Drivers License for All, which was recently signed into law, and ECMN work on Minnesota Sanctuary State Coalition.

Pablo and I realized that we knew each other from Isaiah, the faith based organizing ministry, and from organizing training with Gamaliel. At the training where we met in 2005 I had the good fortune to meet Mary Gonzalez an organizer with Caesar Chavez, who I invited to Minnesota to spend a day training with the diaconate in Minnesota in 2006.

More significantly, we spent time experiencing a Saturday afternoon at St Nick’s. It was AMAZING. As some of you know St Nick’s has become a hub for engagement with the LatinX community in Richfield, a food shelf, and much more. I cannot count the number of people that came and left with food or clothing from the shelf, the bustle of children and youth playing and just being children. The Holy Spirit was overwhelming active. Pablo and I have reconnected and are working together on several justice issues locally and nationally.

There is much work to be done to respond to Isaiah’s challenges, to pay attention to the good work around us, to connect or reconnect with others, and with God’s help we will be known as repairers of the breach.

Note, Statistics are from the Annual Report of 2nd Harvest.

Blessings and Peace,