A LETTER FROM MAGGIE BREEN
In the past three years the Center of Hope has moved almost one hundred families into more permanent housing. St Andrew has been part of this work in so many different ways. One specific way has been to host families at the church overnight for a few months each year. When COH was getting started our Compassion Justice and Peace team discerned a clear call to help in this way.
In the last few months the team has taken some time to listen again to whether this is still part of St Andrew’s call as we support Center of Hope. It was beautiful to be present as folks from Manantial de la Vida, the Center of Hope, St Andrew Compassion Justice and Peace and Creation Care ministries, and Scouts gathered together recently to listen deeply to how the Center of Hope’s Overnight Shelter enriches and challenges their life at St Andrew. It was a privilege to be present as each of those present took time to explain their experiences, needs and hopes. While all affirmed the good things that come from hosting, we also heard that there were significant strains as folks tried to carry on their essential ministries while accommodating others in the building. Recently, the Compassion Justice and Peace team came back together to reflect on this gathering. We listened for creative solutions and a possible way forward and in the process we discerned that it is time to take a step back from hosting COH.
From a REACH perspective I am thankful for St Andrew's leadership in listening carefully and making a decision that feels prayerful and considered. It feels at REACH that we are in a new phase in our development and in our work. We have been bringing churches and volunteers together for the past three years to make Center of Hope work. We have learned much from a practical point of view and hundreds of folks have been exposed to the stories and experiences of those who are homeless and marginalized. We are hearing more and more groups and individuals now ask us, “Help us make sense of all that we are learning and experiencing.” I am intrigued and excited as we start to think about how to do just that. How do we move deeper into accompanying the community as we reflect together on all that has been learned? And how do we invite others into this work?
I am looking forward to listening carefully with St Andrew for this congregation’s role in our work together as we go forward, but most of all I am thankful. I am thankful for the time and resources so many folks at St Andrew have given to the work of Center of Hope these past three years. I am thankful for the ways you have cared for people who had nowhere else to go and I am thankful for all you have taught me about how to be kind, adaptive, generous and faithful. God bless you.
Chuck Sigars is currently an elder at St. Andrew and a newspaper columnist and author.