Wednesday, May 4, 2011

River of Life Thanked for Homeless Shelter

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Last fall, members of River of Life Lutheran Church at 22nd and Fremont wanted to maximize the use of our space.  (I attend and am the Vice President of the congregation.)  We began to look into ways that we could serve our community and those in the most need.  My pastor called me up one day and asked if I could join other church council members in touring several homeless shelters.  We wanted to explore whether the gym could be used as an overflow shelter for the winter, and needed to understand how we could accomplish that.

Fortunately we had plenty of support from partners at the city and county level, as well as partnerships from other Minneapolis shelters.  We heard the concerns of residents in the Hawthorne and Jordan neighborhoods and JACC board member Todd Heintz was crucial in building a relationship between our church and Jordan so that we could move forward.  KSTP reported when our permit was approved by the city, and we were on our way.

Last Friday, our temporary shelter permit expired, and we "celebrated" the closing.  Celebrated is a tough word to use here because...

...even a homeless shelter is a band-aid that alone does not address the root causes of homelessness.  Furthermore, our service to the homeless is, for now, ending.  It's far more preferable to celebrate a landmark achievement instead of an end of a program when there is still work to be done.

But River of Life congregation members gathered with our partners from St. Stephens and elsewhere, as well as community members and several politicians who lent their support.  Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, County Commissioner Mark Stenglein, and Minneapolis City Council Members Don Samuels and John Quincy were in attendance.  As noted above, Todd Heintz was repeatedly thanked for his community support in assuring the neighborhoods that this kind of service could be done in a way that was beneficial for everyone.

When Samuels spoke, he called our shelter "the most important thing that happened in the fifth ward this winter."  Although the public schools broke ground on a new headquarters kitty-corner to the church, Samuels specifically said that reaching out to those in the greatest need had a greater impact in his ward, and heaped praises on the work of the congregation and partners.  We live in a culture, he said, that creates a natural inclination to glamorous things like the royal wedding, and we need religion to teach and remind us otherwise.

Pastor LeeAnn Pomrenke also thanked those at the city and county level for their support.  Isaiah 58 tells us:

"If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."

This is just one of countless passages in the Bible that compels us as Christians to lift up the needs of the oppressed and to serve God by serving others.  So we as a church need to thank our friends at the city and county, and in the community.  By offering their support, they allowed us an opportunity to live out the kind of lives that we as Christians are called to do.

The most poignant speaker was the gentleman in the final picture above.  While it would have felt hollow to bring in homeless people for a photo op, I would have felt even more ill at ease if nobody that was served by a homeless shelter were at our celebration.  This gentleman spoke of how he had reached such a low point in his life that he had no home, nowhere to go, and virtually no relationship with his son.  He came to St. Stephen's, and was given some of the most basic things we all take for granted:  food, shelter, and a sense of dignity and self-worth.  Folks believed in him, referred him to the right places, and stuck with him.  This man is now in a steady job, in stable living, has been clean and sober for years, and has restored his relationship with his son.  Everything he has, he received because someone reached out to him in his hour of need.

So last Friday we celebrated what that means when we as Christians have such opportunities to remove burdens in peoples' lives.  River of Life and our friends thanked our supporters, we praise our God, and we look for new ways to serve.


  1. So now this is a Christian blog and we should all thank "God".Specifically i will add that you said "Our" God. Enough with the religiousity and your obvious favoritism towards Chritians and nothing about Judaism, Islamism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Taoism or any of the other fake ism's. Enough already....or you could also not cherrypick the Bible like all Christians do, and that includes the Protestants who do not get God's meesage through the Pope.Let us see..catholics get their shit from the pope but the protestants say the pope is a fucking dope. So take your cherry pick. Goodness comes from within and not from some ficticious bullshit. "Eat your own children"-(Leviticus 26:29)and (Deuteronomy 28:53) "Stubborn,rebellious, drunkard sons must be murdered"-(Deuteronomy 21:18-21)(i personally would have gotten shot years ago) Paul says marry only if you are Uncontrollably horny(1 Corinthians 7:9) this may be true because i haven't been married and have always been Controllably horny.Finally, for all of the fair felines and phillies, we have"A wife is property"-(Exodus 20:17) "Beat children with rods"(Proverbs23:13,14)and we will end with (John 2:3,4)-Jesus rebukes his mother. Please help the poor, but do it with the conviction that comes from within and do not give all of the credit to "Christians" Before any "Christian" decides to point to their Bible and preach about values they ought to read "ALL OF IT". Good Day.

  2. Boathead,

    This is not specifically a Christian blog. It is a blog dedicated to issues in north Minneapolis and also a blog where I write about topics as I choose. But I am a Christian and my faith guides and inspires me in many ways. I did a post a while back where I pretty much stated that I'd like to write more about that aspect of my dedication to this community.

    No doubt the Bible has some inconsistencies and the Christian church itself has plenty of people who fail to live up to the calling of their religion.

    To your last point about helping the poor but not giving credit to Christians: In this instance, it was specifically Christians who did this work because of the teachings of our faith. If I write about a similar endeavor at a mosque, inspired by writings of the Koran, I would hope to highlight that inspiration as well. You have your own reasons for caring about this community and there's plenty of room for that too.

  3. "the bible has some inconsistencies" and lo and behold you are using The Onion as your example. +Jesse Ventura was 100% percent right when he said that religion is for the weak minded because that was one weak the way,you have no proof and will never have any proof and until the"Church" investigates the mass molestation of boys by homosexual child molesting white men.

  4. Well anon 9:22, my quoting of the Onion was done to bring at least some levity to the discussion. If you want to go toe-to-toe on a theological argument, I'm confident enough in my faith to do that. And of course I have no definitive proof; that's why it's called faith.

    As far as your last comment goes, that has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

  5. .... well, besides the problem of just where Noah found penguins and polar bears in Palestine, lest we forget about kangaroos and three -toed sloths,the tens of thousands of species of beetles and butterflies and on and on. Please take the logical out of theological and maybe we can start and possibly write a fucking book about it and call it the...The manual for those who rely on Faith. Koalas are very finicky eaters and seem to prefer eucalyptus leaves and i have faith old Noah brought plenty of food for these "two of every species scavenger hunt". I wonder what the Egyptians and the Chinese were doing during this time since they have no record of this five mile high flood occuring.Global flood!? Impossible. Local flood?! Possible. Meanwhile...the enourmous amounts of shit that would necessarily have been produced would have had to been dealt with somehow. How did they dispose of that shit without making everyone sick?? Where did they store all of the food to begin with? What did the animals eat after they were let out on land again,land that no longer supported living plants due to the flooding and subsequent inundation?. The larger, philosophical question may be how an all- merciful god could send flood to destroy his own creations? The image of all of the world's babies, toddlers,and pregnant women treading water is not a pleasant one. Just as extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof, extraordinary religious puzzles demand extraordinary explanations. Why is God male? Why would an eternal,non-human,non-animal,non-reproducing, one hundred percent spiritual being require sexual gender? How is this for religion; an old jewish proverb says that"If god lived on earth people would break his windows". Omniscience means predestination, and predestination means that god arbitrarily saves some people and damns some people, which reduces us to robotically automated flesh and makes god an ogre. If god did not know there would be evil in his universe, he could not be omniscient or all knowing. If god knew there would be evil and could do nothing to prevent it, then he is not omnipotent or all- powerful. If god knew there would be evil and CHOSE to do nothing about it then he could not be omnibenevolent a.k.a. all good. Finally, if you claim that god cannot be held responsible for satan's actions because he did not create him, and beelzelbub somehow being present before creation, then you are now faced with a two-deity universe, which thoroghly contradicts the concept of One Time God, Creator of All Things. We can continue with the occasional anonameass commenting and i would be honored to assist All-Anonameass entities who may need Boathead's ALL-Encompassing debate on what the hell(hell?) All of this means in a world where the cheese stands alone. Good Day.

  6. Boathead, I do love your comments. I'd counter by saying that many cultures and religions do have their own flood stories. That's not to say the whole world flooding actually happened, only that I do believe people have told that story to each other as part of their search for truth. And just because something didn't actually happen, well that doesn't mean we can't find truth in it or learn from it. Fiction has been used countless times as a means to teach people how to relate to each other, to creation, to God.

    I think if we sat down and hashed out our respective worldviews, we'd find we have quite a bit in common.

  7. Thank You, J. Hawthorne Hawkman. I do respect all people's views. I would say that it is pretty ironic that you seem to think that people tell each other their own made-up flood stories in the search for the truth. I would compare that to people spinning their own tales about the ever popular St. Nicholas, A.K.A. Santa Claus, in their own futile search for answers that will comfort their insecure and utterly frightened and confused minds... oh, those would be children who have not been brain washed totally into what to KNOW yet. People, in general, all thrive to believe in something and most naive souls(souls?)will fall for anything, but at least kids (yea, us at one time) were given the heart breaking truth that there is no entity called Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy nor the,Ahem,...and they all deserve capitilization..Booyow!! (How is that for a Stewart Scott impression?) Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we can clone human beings and finally got around to bombing the moon. Speaking of the moon, there is an old Tower Of Power song "While We Went To The Moon"(what in heaven happened here on earth) with heaven being used as a prop word...then there is another song that T.O.P. wrote called "There is only so much Oil in the Ground". Both songs were wrote and recorded in the Seventies and are examples that Human Beings would rather try to scare the hell(there we go again) out of each other with some unproven bullshit instead of dealing with the meaningless accumulation of unrelated events designed to keep us discombobulated while the rich folks eat the whole pie and even find it hard to give up the crumbs. I will end by saying that i am not going to continue to bombard any individuals with the hard truth anymore. I will say that whatever the level of your goodness may be,you can rest easier knowing that you are more responsible for it than you realize and you are a much better person than you have been given credit for. I will have to admit that the time you guys put in caring for this area and its' surrounding neighborhoods are some examples of people with extremely high levels of goodness and if there is room for me to compromise it would have to be under the proposition of Pascals' Theory and i don't want to get in to it because i could go on forever. I personally thank all of you Ladies and Gentlemen who are masters of coming out of theirselves and sacrificing for the community so people can raise their children without assholes ruining it for them..and then there's the assholes... i might have to reconsider the chance of a hell... and so it goes. Good Day.

  8. Hey -deranged boathead, it is Pascals Wager and Occams Razor slices it to pieces. Get your facts straight,know it all.


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