November 17, 2019
Presbyterian congregations are responding to homelessness around the country. They are preparing meals and sharing produce from community gardens, offering shelter on cold nights, assisting with job skills training and participating in Congregation-Based Community Organizing (CBCO).
CBCO is a local coalition of congregations from many faiths working together to root out injustice and build equitable solutions in their neighborhoods and cities. While advocating with people whose voices are too often ignored, congregations find that the vibrancy of their own faith communities increases.
When Deborah Agbor-Tabi joined St. James Presbyterian Church in Charleston, South Carolina, she found the congregation very involved with the community in areas such as recreation, social events, working with local political leaders, and ministries with youth, seniors, students and those in need of food stamps. Deborah knew that in addition to mercy and faithfulness, God calls the Church to do the work of justice (Micah 6:8, Matthew 23:23–24). Members of St. James have been active for several years in community organizing with their local CBCO, the Charleston Area Justice Ministry.
“Each year we focus on one challenge and we research it along with possible solutions. We present these to our public officials in public gatherings. Using the example of Nehemiah, we have an annual gathering … to ask our officials to adopt and implement the solutions we have identified. Sometimes this can take two to three years, but we are successful. Then we follow up together to be sure it is implemented. Those folks who felt that nothing ever works have heard about our successes and have started to participate,” Deborah said.
“Together we make a difference for each other, our membership and our community, while also energizing the congregation.”
The Presbyterian Hunger Program financially supports about two dozen CBCOs around the United States each year thanks to Presbyterians’ donations to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
Andrew Kang Bartlett; Associate for National Hunger Concerns; Compassion Peace & Justice; Presbyterian Mission Agency
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, November 17, 2019, the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Today’s Focus: Hunger and Homelessness Sunday
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray:
Loving God, give us the strength to open our hearts and hands to people who are without a place to call home. Nudge us to break wide open and share all we can — our time, our energy, our resources and our love. In Christ, we pray. Amen.