Narberth Presbyterian Church put out an invitation to join The King’s Jubilee on a tour of center city Philadelphia from the perspective of surviving on the street homeless. They had such a response that we had to divide it into two tours. We like to have no more than 20 people on a tour, so we can cross streets together and everyone can hear. Fred Benjamin and I led the first tour on October 16. There were twenty of us altogether on that tour, as there were some last minute cancellations from Narberth and some last minute participants from St. Philip Orthodox Church. Everyone brought sandwiches to give away. We also had power packs and bottled water. It was basically the same tour as the “Walkabout” we did last spring, with the addition of a visit to a compact home set up in a dumpster and a side trip at the end into the Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul. Fred shared stories of the resourcefulness of those living on the street, along with some desperate measures taken when there was no one who came out to feed them. I shared the history and philosophy of The King’s Jubilee, along with suggestions of ways they could join us in the ministry.
On November 20, I was in the hospital for the third time, so Father Noah Bushelli went in my stead to help lead and share an Orthodox perspective on ministry among the poor. There were 47 on the tour that day. Fr. told me that, even so, everyone crossed the streets safely and could hear fairly well, although the tour took an hour longer than anticipated.
We feel these tours have helped people to understand homeless people as people first and we hope they will give rise to more and creative ways to reach out and help solve this terrible symptom of the disconnectedness of our time. We plan to do more of these, including one in the dead of winter. Hopefully future tours will include pilgrimages to Orthodox Churches in the city for prayer and to encourage and strengthen the witness of those Orthodox who are living on the front lines.