Recent Weeks

We were able to give away over $250 on St. Nicholas Day. There weren’t that many men out that night so the ones who really needed it got more. This is a good thing.

A man who has been living on the street for over 18 years is getting an apartment on February 1st. We have been gathering household goods in preparation for him to make this transition. So far, we have a bed, a kitchen table and chairs, a microwave, an electric frypan, some end tables, an upholstered rocking chair, and a few dishes. I should mention that this man has been a faithful volunteer helping us and a couple of other groups serve on the streets. Cash donations would be gladly received for us to purchase appropriate sheets, cleaning supplies, etc.

As the weather has turned cold, we have experienced an emphasis on thanksgiving among our “customers.” Last week almost everyone we served said thank you, some more than once.

Spring Break

The University of Delaware OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) have chosen The King’s Jubilee for their spring break service project. This will be the week of March 30. I am so thrilled that they are coming to help us.

Through the years it has been a frustration to me that people are more willing to cross the country or go overseas to help, rather than drive an hour or two to a town near them to help. I understand that mission trips are fun, and it is exciting to go to strange, exotic places. If I had the means I would love to go on them, too. But there is work to be done close to home, as well, and one may find that some of one’s neighbors are stranger than one imagined.

Some of the students want a more economical, yet worthy, spring break this year. May I add that less travel means lower environmental impact?

The plan is that between seven and twenty college students will come to Souderton for the week. They will bring their sleeping bags so we will need some floor space in local homes for them to crash at night. Meals will be taken together at our place. Each morning will start with prayers and Scripture. During the day, we will all work on the barn, building a proper base of operations for TKJ.

Monday and Tuesday evenings will be story telling, perhaps with a special guest. Wednesday evening is Pre-Sanctified Liturgy at St. Philip’s. Thursday evening we will all help serve on the street in Philadelphia. Friday evening is the Akathist Hymn.

Please pray for this event and consider joining us sometime during the week. It promises to be a real boost to help us do more for the poor and homeless, especially for those transitioning off of the street.

Talk About Recession

Lately, all of the economic news has been about recession and how we might try to spend our way out of it. Year-end charitable giving in the US was down in 2007, as was all giving for the year as a percentage of income. Could it be that the recession is a form of reaping sparingly after sowing sparingly?

The first and last to suffer in a recession are the people who were poor to begin with. Now is the time to increase our giving to those in need. We would like to expand the services that The King’s Jubilee offers; especially helping those who are transitioning off the street and helping those who are only hanging onto their homes by a thread. We can only do this with additional funding. We cannot expect God to bless us, if we do not bless the “least of these”.

What’s Ahead?

If we can finally finish the barn, what are the possibilities? There is always a need for men’s clothing, toiletries and blankets for the guys on the street. There is a need for household goods for those moving off of the street. I currently have no good place to gather and store these. Finishing the barn, especially the clean, dry storage room, would allow us to do more without cluttering up the coat room at church.

Beyond that, I have always envisioned The King’s Jubilee as being much more than a once a week meal serving ministry. On the other hand, I don’t have any desire to build a large organization with an institutional culture. I want to do more of what we did in the early years. We acted as an umbrella organization to start and establish various local ministries and pass them off to local churches to continue for as long as they had people who would do them.

Clothesline in East Greenville is an example of one such ministry. It has been operating a free clothing exchange for over fifteen years. The woman who was operating this came to us when she needed a space to continue this. I contacted the Mennonite Church mission that had recently acquired a building on Main Street and negotiated for Clothesline to operate out of their garage. Our daughter, April, drew a beautiful “trademark” for them. The church people got involved and took ownership in it.

The original organizer of it lost interest and moved on. Over the years the mission closed for a couple years, then reopened, but the clothing ministry continued to help struggling families in Jesus’ Name without interruption.

We started homeless and poor outreaches in Pottstown, Stowe and Upper Darby in Pennsylvania, and in two neighborhoods of Columbia, South Carolina. These all continued for years after The King’s Jubilee had no organizational ties with them. We were just there to lay the groundwork and start them and shepherd them to local churches who then took complete ownership. That is what I want to do more of.
I have ideas for three ministries to help improve neighborhoods. Please let me know if you want to get involved in any of the following.

Broom Brigade
I remember Maureen O’Hara telling John Wayne that “Cleanliness is next to godliness” in one of those old westerns. It’s not found in Scripture, but there’s a kernel of truth there nonetheless. People tend to behave better in a clean environment. Whether the houses are small or large, if the sidewalks are clean and the windows are washed, people feel safer there and are more likely to treat others with respect.

I want to organize a mix of volunteers, some from the neighbor- hood, some homeless, some from outside to sweep, pick up trash, wash windows and weed a block at a time in North Philadelphia. This would be done in cooperation with the block or neighbor organization. If they don’t have an organization, we’ll help start one. Neighbors talking to neighbors and working together has been found to be an effective prevention against property crime and domestic violence.

Sun Power
All of the home improvement shows talk about energy independence and alternatives to expensive, fossil fuels. Remember when everyone with money was buying smaller, more efficient cars in the 1970s after the OPEC oil embargo; while the working poor were left with the gas guzzling, older cars?

There’s a similar thing happening now. Oil and natural gas prices have gone up. Electricity is bound to follow shortly. People with money are investing in insulation, geothermal heat pumps, passive and active solar power. The working poor are stuck renting older housing stock that is very energy inefficient to say the least.
There are solar collectors that can be made for very low cost, sometimes from scavenged materials. A simple passive solar heat siphon can be hung out of a South facing window of a rental property without doing any damage to the existing building.

Windows and doors can be tightened up. Energy and water conservation habits can be taught and learned. These can make a real impact on people’s monthly budgets, not to mention helping the planet. And again, it is a point of contact to share the love of God, when it is done in Jesus’ Name.

Sowing and Reaping
One can’t understand most of the teachings of Jesus without a basic understanding of growing food and the cycles of nature. Over the last century there has been an unprecedented migration off of the land into cities all over the world. The cities have become uncivilized.

I want to organize more community gardens. People who garden are better able to understand the gospel of Christ. Neighborhoods with community gardens have lower rates of violent crime, drug addiction, truancy and domestic violence; even when all other factors are the same.

They have the added benefits of providing fresh produce to help stretch budgets and promote better health; as well as beautifying otherwise blighted, wasted lots.

Prevention is Easier Than Cure
These three ideas all help to build better communities and strengthen families. When families are strong and neighbors are talking to each other, for anyone to fall through the cracks and end up homeless is much less likely. To get these things started, I need more time. Not to put too fine a point on it: to take more time costs money.

comeandseeicons.com is Going Greener

We have changed material again. We are now using Microstrand Wheatboard for the icons. This is made by the same company in Minnesota that makes the Dakota Burl. It is made from wheat straw and soy adhesives. We made the change, because the sunflower hull boards tended to throw off chips that would scratch the fronts of the icons during the edging process.

PPG has a no VOC deep base paint, so we are using that to paint the edges in bordeaux red, then varnishing the edges and back with a low VOC varnish, which is no VOC within two hours of application.

The packing materials are either reused from packages received or fabric scraps from a local drapery company. “Come and See” is not just zero landfill. We are net negative landfill.

I think a holy icon should be a blessing in every way. As much as is possible, its physical form should not deplete natural resources or pollute.