Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why I go on Street Retreat

  1. Missionary to the homeless: Called by Sts. Mary & Martha, Christ Church, Her Church (Ebenezer) and St. Francis to be the Executive Director of WELCOME - a communal response to poverty, I also serve as a missionary to the homeless. By being out on the streets I can learn about the services that are or are not being offered by other organizations. Beyond that being on the street is an opportunity for those I serve to serve me (like Jesus' foot washing) and provides me with the opportunity to listen to those living in poverty in a new way. Like my encounter with the gentleman above (pictured on the left). My chance meeting with him helped him to change his life, clean up a bit and the picture of him on the right was taken during coffee hour at St. Francis Lutheran a year later. The pictures show what I have experienced hundreds of times over on the streets. Live change when you take a moment to listen.
  2. Educating people about poverty Issues: My time on the streets helps me to feel in my bones what it feels like to live in poverty. It also provides me with many of the encounters and stories that I talk about in my sermons throughout the rest of the year. Additionally, in a time when stories about people living in poverty and deep need overwhelm us, street retreats seem to capture people's attention in a unique and powerful way. Perhaps it is like any issue. We always care more when it affects someone we know or love. You may not have the ability, time or privilege to spend a week on the streets learning about poverty. But you may have the ability to read about my stories, share them with others or invite me to your congregation to share my stories first hand. If you want to learn more about the laws and politics that keep people in poverty, or about the ways that those living in poverty can be ministers, then I hope you will read about my street retreat.
  3. Begging for Change: I use the experiences I have on the streets to lobby politicians for change, to create new programs at WELCOME that will address the root causes of poverty and in a very literal way to panhandle. Yes, I beg those who are moved by my stories to support WELCOME with donations. This year while I'm at Churchwide, any money beyond what I'll need to eat will be donated to WELCOME. My goal is to raise $6,000. This is the amount of my sabbatical tuition. This will enable me to begin my Doctorate of Ministry at Pacific School of Religion, where I will study and discern the next phase of WELCOME. Help me, and WELCOME learn how to transform from a homeless ministry to a communal response to poverty, from a ministry of presence to a ministry of justice. We hope that our work with be a model for the rest of the country. So if you feel like this blog is educating you, please help support my education. Donate if you are able, I beg you.
Thanks for your support and for going on this journey will me.

Pastor Megan Rohrer

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