Category Archives: Philadelphia

redpeppers

Wash your foot before you put it in the soup.

The men say when I serve I really bumpin’ soup, “You really put your foot in it tonight, Rev!” Well, since tonight is Holy Thursday, I am going for that response. I will let you know. I am writing down the recipe as I am making it. The people loved it!

Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts salt free home-made chicken broth
  • 10 pounds 80/20 ground chuck
  • 5 medium size yellow onions
  • 1 head garlic
  • 5 large, red, sweet peppers
  • 2 pounds broccoli florets
  • 2 fennel
  • 3 big bunches of collard greens
  • 2 eggplants
  • ~ 5 quarts water
  • ~ 1-1/2 cubic inches fresh grated ginger
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed Turkish oregano buds
  • 35 twists, medium grind, black pepper

Fry up the ground chuck in 10-1# batches in a large cast iron skillet with a diced half onion and a pressed garlic clove in each batch & add to the 22 quart stock pot with the chicken broth heating in it on low heat. Cut up the peppers into bite sized pieces and add to pot. Cut the florets to soup sized pieces and add to the pot. Add some of the water. Turn up the heat to cook the added ingredients. Cut the fronds off the fennel, chop and add them to the soup. Now take the white bottoms of the fennel, dice them, and saute’ them in the skillet. (If you need additional fat, you may skim some from the top of the pot.) Don’t skip this step. It unlocks the umami in the fennel. Slice and chop the collard greens and add them. Remember to stir the pot regularly.  Dice the eggplants to ~1/2″ cubes, leaving the skin on for the valuable bioflavonoids. Peel and grate the ginger into the pot. Add the remaining spices and remaining water. Transfer the pot into the double boiler canner setup to stew for hours until you are ready to load it into an Igloo container to take it to the city to serve.

April made a curried cauliflower with chickpea recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook for our vegetarian alternative tonight.

I have been publishing a lot of recipes. All of this food costs money. So does the kitchen and the stove and the gas. For that matter, so does the web access and hosting. I forgot to mention the car expenses. We receive less in monthly donations than what we spend for these things. Please consider using the friendly Donate button to set up a monthly automatic Paypal donation. Even if it’s just $20 or $10, it will help. God bless you.

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“The King’s Jubilee”

We marked our 25th anniversary in February for The King’s Jubilee. I wrote then about many of the ministries we have been involved in through the years. I think we are in need of a review as to the meaning of the name of this ministry, as it reveals its core purpose and direction. In the last couple of years, a few people have not understood this and it has led to conflict.

The first thing one should know is that it is “The King’s” Jubilee. We are not talking about King as in Martin Luther King. We are referring to The King of Kings, Jesus Christ. I have long said, that if I can’t do it in Jesus’ Name, I don’t have time to do it. Now the biblical concept of  doing something in someone’s name does not mean just saying the words. It means to act according to that person’s will. Nevertheless, to be sure to have the freedom to do this, we have never solicited nor will we ever accept government funding; nor do we solicit or accept any corporate or United Way funding that would require secularization of our services. Years ago a volunteer was pressured at his workplace for 100% participation in United Way. He designated $2,000 to The King’s Jubilee. We were told that if we so much as said a prayer of blessing or mentioned Jesus anywhere near anything we bought with the money, it would be a violation of their rules. We would have to keep separate accounts and have a completely secular program to use their money. I told them we could not comply with those ridiculous requirements. They never informed our volunteer of their decision not to forward the money according to his donor choice. I did.

On another note, it is the King’s because it is Christ’s love that compels us to serve. When I am asked by one of those we serve, why I keep coming after I have been mistreated by either some of the people or the police or the mayor, I say, “Jesus loves you. His love compels me to be here.” You see, I can’t always say that I love them. Now, after 25 years, I have grown to know and love some of them, but certainly not all of them. There are new faces each week, and my memory is not that strong, and I am not that holy. It would not be good news that I love them. Who am I? It is Good News that Jesus loves them. Of course, most of them are far better Christians than I am. The rest are better Muslims, or better Hindi, or better atheists, or better Buddhists. It is the King’s because this King lowered himself to become the servant of all. We go in a spirit of joy and a spirit of service. We endeavor to treat people with respect and dignity and kindness, the way we would like to be treated.

cropped-tkjprofile.jpgThis ministry did not just set out to serve homeless people on the streets. It is The King’s Jubilee. A major part of the Law of Moses had to do with the sabbath years and the year of jubilee, or sabbath of sabbaths, every 50 years. This was all about healing and second chances and radical redistribution of wealth. Every seventh year, all the slaves were to be freed for the year in order for them to be given a chance to earn enough to buy back their freedom. The land was given a rest to let it restore itself, as well. Every 50 years, all debts were cancelled; slaves were set free; the land was returned to its original owners or their heirs. This was not an optional or “freewill” plan. It was to be part of the government. If a man did not comply, he was to lose his inheritance completely and no longer be a citizen of Israel. However the Israelites never really kept these years. They were very important to God, however. So important, in fact, that God caused the nation to go into captivity for every one of these years they failed to keep.

You see, the Law of Moses was to be a model government for the nations of a direction toward mercy, toward economic equality, toward elimination of slavery. The year of jubilee was a type of the coming of the Lord. There are jubilary psalms that start with “Shout for joy” or “Lift a shout!” The jubilee year started with the sounding of the horn and a mighty shout from all the people. We hear this again in the culmination of the age in the Revelation to St. John in the sounding of the trumpets. It is a signal that God is finally making all things right. Justice is being meted out. Well, Jesus is the King. In his first public message, he referenced Isaiah 61 which is about “the acceptable year of the Lord.” It is a “jubilee song” speaking of the final jubilee to which all the 50 year jubilees pointed. He said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” He proclaimed Himself and his church to be that Jubilee. This is further confirmed by St. James’ understanding of the economic implications of the gospel. The Epistle of James was the first book to be written of the New Testament. It is mostly about the evils of economic inequality. “Go to ye rich, weep and howl …” “Where do wars come from? …” “judges with evil minds”, etc.  I have already posted James 5:1-8 without comment on Facebook and had two priests accuse me of being a communist for it. I told them their argument obviously is with St. James, not me, since I had not commented. St. James had the mind of Christ and the natural progression from the jubilary concepts of Moses.

So this ministry is called The King’s Jubilee because we are trying to get resources from where they are to where they need to be. When we started in 1989, Montgomery and Bucks counties were two of the wealthiest counties in the country and home to the per capita wealthiest evangelical denomination in the world, the Mennonites. We were Mennonite at the time. This area was wealthy due to one reason: white flight from Philadelphia. They had sold their farmland for subdivision and made a killing. There was a whole generation that were builders and tradesmen who earned enough off of this development to send their children through college. The next generation came back as professional people. Some of the developers had even larger businesses off of the new population. The grocery stores expanded, etc. At the same time, they cut their support for ministry in the city and closed some of their mission outreach in the areas where they had originally started in Philadelphia.

Hundreds of churches have closed in Philadelphia. Crack wiped out a generation of mothers. Prison took a generation of fathers. Grandmas were left to raise babies. Little store front churches were overwhelmed with the tasks set before them. Meanwhile new churches were being built in the suburbs and people were building bigger McMansions and praising the Lord in comfortable, bigger, air conditioned barns , nicely forgetting the bad old days in Philadelphia. They wanted to help the poor people in their “own” neighborhoods. Problem is, they intentionally moved away from all those poor folks in Phila. and have zoning laws so they don’t have to see them on a regular basis and highways and no mass transit out here, so they can’t reach us. The suburban soup kitchen has to turn volunteers away. The suburban food bank is staffed by paid help, it is so well funded. Meanwhile, the city is starving.

So, we are The King’s Jubilee. We don’t just want to see food move from the suburbs to the city. We want to see money move to the people in need. We want to see people be personally involved in helping to rebuild neighborhoods for the current residents. We want to see land reform. We want to see people given a second chance. We want to see an end to convicts losing their right to vote. The war on drugs has been a race war by Nixon’s own taped admission. When people have paid their debt to society, the slate should be wiped clean. I learned that from my GOP dad around the dinner table. Imagine that! Stakeholders in a society make better citizens. We want to end homelessness. It is possible. Don’t you dare quote me: “The poor you have with you always.” Do you see the word homeless in there anywhere? I didn’t think so. Homelessness is a stupid shame and is a symptom of our greed and hardheartedness. It actually costs us more as a society to keep these people out on the street than if we would just give them some of the excess apartments that are sitting vacant, no strings attached. Four cities and one state have tried it and have found this to be the case, so I am going to say it again, louder. It actually costs us more as a society to keep these people out on the street than if we would just give them some of the excess apartments that are sitting vacant, no strings attached.

So another aspect of The King’s Jubilee’s ministry as was just demonstrated is the prophetic, both to Christians and to the powers that be, to advocate for the poor and disenfranchised. It’s all wrapped up in the idea of sounding the trumpet or lifting the shout of liberation a la Isaiah 61.

I have been at this for more than 25 years. It has been a life lived in poverty. I have basically worked two jobs the whole time. Only for two brief periods did I have the luxury of pastors who understood and appreciated me and were glad to have me in their congregations. Most pastors feel threatened by me. I have been called by some a fool for Christ, by others, just a fool. They do not understand this ministry. They prefer to do “ministry” where they can market the church and proselytize. The first time Metropolitan PHILIP, of blessed memory, met me, he did not let me reverence him. Instead he reverenced me, and pronounced a loud blessing upon me and upon this ministry. I was just a new catechumen at the time. I do not say this to boast. I do not understand these things. I was ordained to the priesthood as an infant by the Episcopalian bishop who baptized me. No one knows why. I was ordained four other times, none of which I asked for, once in a joint Mennonite Church/ General Conference Mennonite service with a Catholic priest, a Lutheran minister and a Pentecostal bishop joining the MC & GC overseers & pastors in the laying on of hands. We have been investigated on numerous occasions. At least three times during the Rendell years, undercover police tried to run sting operations on us. We have been harassed under three Mayors; threatened with fines and arrest and finally banned. We sued in federal court and won a restraining order to block that. I have been held at gunpoint twice. I have witnessed one shooting and two knifings. What a long strange trip it has been.

What I do know is that serving the poor and homeless is what I am meant to do. Doing it excellently, with care and skill, with attention to nutritional needs, social needs, psychological needs, financial needs, and spiritual needs, brings me joy. There is no better life. Won’t you please join me?

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Mushroom Harmony

No. We are not talking about funny mushrooms here. We are actually talking about integration. Black and white blending in perfect harmony. A great many people of my generation are now thinking of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder and their hit: Ebony and Ivory.

blackriceThat’s OK, but it has nothing to do with cooking, now does it? Although, I guess this could serve as a similar metaphor. only this one involves rice and mushrooms. This is our vegetarian alternative for tonight by our daughter, April Smith. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 2 cups black rice
  • 10 medium – small yellow onions
  • 4 pounds button white mushrooms
  • 4 bunches Swiss chard
  • 2 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 Tablespoons oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Cook white rice and black rice separately. Dump into roaster pan.
Saute’ onions and spices until translucent. Add to rice in roaster pan.
Saute’ mushrooms in batches until tender. Add to pan.
Saute’ chard until just barely tender. Stir it together with all of the other ingredients. Slow bake until ready to serve. Enjoy with dozens of old friends, new friends, soon to be friends. Live together in Perfect Harmony!

minipeppers

Chicken Leg Soup

minipeppersWe were able to purchase cases of chicken parts and ground chuck at really good prices in Amish country this week. This is the first soup using some of the meat from that purchase.  As usual, I used lots of fresh ingredients for their nutritional values and chose spices for their anti-inflammatory and disease fighting properties, as well as their flavor. This is all part of our Golden Rule approach to serving. We always want to make food to serve the way we would want it to be made for us.

I wrote this recipe in a non-traditional way. The directions are mixed up with the ingredients. Olive oil is not listed separately. Sorry. No one has ever called me a traditionalist. Enjoy!

  • 2 quarts home made chicken broth. Start heating in 22 quart stock pot.
  • 16 whole chicken legs baked together in a roaster pan with water and turmeric. Once it reaches internal temp of 175°, remove from the oven and drain the liquid into the stock pot. Let the legs cool while you continue working on other things. When it is OK to handle, remove skin and tear up meat into bite sized pieces and add it to soup.
  • 4 large Spanish onions chopped and sauteed in olive oil, caramelized & add to the pot.
  • 2 pounds mini peppers (red, yellow, orange, sweet peppers) chopped & sauteed & add.
  • 2 leeks. Separate the tops. Dice the tops & add to pot. Dice & saute’ the bottom portion & add.
  • Chop up two pounds of fresh broccoli & add.
  • Chop up two big bunches of fresh kale & add.
  • Once all of the above ingredients are in the stockpot, transfer the pot to the double boiler, canner set up.
  • Add water up to two inches shy of the top.
  • Press 5 cloves of garlic into pot.
  • Grate about 1-1/2 cubic inches of fresh ginger in.
  • Add 1 Tablespoon ground coriander.
  • Add 2 Tablespoons ground sage.
  • Medium grind 30 twists black peppercorns into pot.
  • Stir occasionally. Let it stew until we need to transfer it to the Igloo cooler to take it to the street.
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California Style Beans & Rice

Organic_Avocado_Hass_FuerteOur vegetarian alternative last night was prepared by our daughter, April Smith.  It’s beans and rice, but it’s not your typical Phili-Rican mama’s beans and rice, that’s for sure! She didn’t know what to call it after she concocted it, so I named it, “California Style” since that’s where the Hass avocados come from , after all. One of the young men from Eastern University’s YACHT Club , who serve alongside us, requested the recipe. So here it is.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs black beans soaked in water overnight
  • 3 very large Spanish onions or 3lbs yellow onions – chopped
  • 6-7 sweet peppers – yellow, orange or red – chopped
  • 3 cups white rice
  • 5 ripe avocados – cubed
  • 1 lime, squeezed over the avocado
  • 5 or 6 ripe Ataulfo mangoes (a smaller yellow mango) or 4 regular mangoes, cubed
  • 1 bunch cilantro chopped
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder or 1 head garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp coriander
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Start by draining the beans and cooking in fresh water until tender. When done, transfer to casserole pan. While beans are cooking chop all your peppers and onions. Saute’ onions with a little salt until soft. You may have to do this in 2 or more batches. Saute’ peppers with a little salt and garlic, coriander, cumin, oregano and cayenne. When semi-soft, transfer to casserole. Use the same pot, add 6 cups water and turmeric and bring to a boll. Add rice and cook until done (Cooking in the same pot makes use of the spices stuck on the pan.) Transfer rice to casserole pan along with cilantro and black pepper. Stir gently together and heat in oven. 20 minutes before serving add in the mango and avocado. Enjoy! Makes a large turkey roasting pan full.

The people loved it! We did not use much hot sauce at all, and came home with an empty pan.

Trooper needs a new clutch.

clutch3On Thursday night, Esther McGraw almost arrived at 18th & Vine with the spaghetti and sandwiches, but not quite. I got a call from her mom that she was just below us (literally) on 676 and 4 blocks away underneath 22nd. Her clutch had failed and her car stalled and she did not know how to drive it without a clutch. I asked around to any of our volunteers if any of them knew how to drive a car without a clutch. Gregory said he did. Brian & Gregory took the TKJ-mobile down to her. Gregory tried, but it was too rough and it had been too many years since Greg has last done this. Esther’s brother, Eric, was already on his way to drive the car home. Brian & Gregory retrieved the spaghetti and sandwiches for us to serve and Esther continued to wait for Eric. We still had customers for the food, so it was a good thing we were able to get it. Eric was able to drive Esther’s car home. They brought it to their mechanic today.

Years ago, Esther earned the street name “Trooper” from the guys we serve. This is because of all of the nine McGraw children, she was always the most faithful to come out and serve. She’s 19 now and drives her own car, many times. Much of the time she will come alone or with one or more of her younger siblings. She is definitely a trooper. She is a freshman in college. She is determined to pay as she goes so as to not be saddled with debt. We would like to be able to help her with this repair, so she can keep moving forward. (She did not ask me to do this.) If you want to help pay for Esther’s new clutch, to keep her serving the poor and making progress in her journey, you may make a donation, then send an email to let us know that you want it designated for “Trooper’s clutch”.

Thank you! God bless you!

One Day Delay

Due to today’s snowicepalooza we are postponing this week’s trip to the city to serve until tomorrow night. Today it is just impossible to move, with blowing snow, then freezing rain laying down some ice, then back to several more inches of snow. This will be happening during the time that we would be serving in the park. We are doing our best to use all channels to get word to the street that we will not be there tonight. We don’t want anyone waiting out in the cold and wet. The City of Philadelphia has declared a state of emergency and a Code Blue. Hopefully, they are aggressively enforcing that and forcing the homeless into warm shelters and providing warm food and drink. We don’t want to lose any more friends frozen to death or run over in their sleep by snow plows, as in former years. Pray that they find everyone and everyone cooperates. It is not an easy task. Pray for the snow plow operators and emergency workers. Pray for the Outreach teams. Pray for the dialysis transport drivers and patients. Pray for the linemen and arborists. This will be a rough week.

Please pray.

Tomorrow will be just like a regular Thursday only on Friday. Any questions call me at 267-497-0268.

Peace,
Cranford
for The King’s Jubilee

 

The People on the Street Say “Thank You!”

soudindThis month has been a wild ride!

It started on Christmas day, Charli Riggle and I spoke on the phone and she told me I had to set up a Gofundme campaign in conjunction with the Facebook Lenten Almsgiving group. She was going to announce the next day that during the 12 Days of Christmas there was going to be a drive to save our house from foreclosure. This was crazy talk. Our little group had never generated anywhere near that amount of money. She was the third woman to tell me this. I have a wife and four daughters and that is about how many women it usually takes before something sinks in; so I did it. I set the goal at $15,000 which is what I estimated to be what would be needed to bring the account current by the time we raised the funds, along with the late fees. It did not allow for any funds going forward or any strange fees the mortgage company might choose to tack on. In other words, I was being my usual optimistic self. Even so, it was an outrageous amount for our little group of poor almsgivers.

In the first week, we raised over $6,000 as far as the public was aware of. There was a totally anonymous donation of $9,000 that had actually put us over the top. The donor told me to wait to add that to the public total until after we had reached the total otherwise. I did add $400 and then $600 of it in when donations were slowing down, just to liven things up a bit and improve our rank on the Gofundme site. The first Inquirer article hit on Jan. 6. By the end of the day, our online total had surpassed our goal of $15,000! Then I added in the remaining $8,000. For the next several days donations kept coming in from all over the world. Bethann & I were almost full-time writing thank you notes. Jan. 8, the second Inquirer article came out. Gofundme also featured our story in an email to their supporters. We received over $5,000 during the day from complete strangers, then got up the next morning to discover that we had received more than $1,000 from Australia!  By the 16th, we had raised over $40,000 and had arranged to pay to reinstate the mortgage, as well as eliminate other outstanding debts. We also were able to help a neighbor from losing his home and help a few other folks along the way, leaving enough in The King’s Jubilee’s account to fund the ministry, including a secure base at our house, for the next year.

On the 17th, the Intelligencer did a feature article about us. On the 28th, the Huffington Post chose me as one of eighteen people who the President should have invited to attend the State of the Union Address, referencing the first Inquirer article and the Gofundme site. Today, the local paper, the Souderton Independent used the whole front page of its Living section with an article about us, with huge color pictures.

We have had more positive press in one month than in the rest of the 25 years prior. It is an interesting dynamic with the people on the street. They read the papers. Several of them congratulated or blessed me on Thursday night for the success of the fundraising campaign. One fellow, who seemed intensely shy, took time to speak with me, to tell me how pleased he was that we had been blessed in this way. Some of the guys wanted me to tell all of you “Thank You” for your support of The King’s Jubilee, because we serve the best meal of the week. I’m just passing it on. This is your ministry. We could not do it without all of you supporting it. I just get to give away other people’s stuff. God bless you!

More than enough blankets!

cropped-tkjprofile.jpgI tend to be pretty loosey goosey about planning for food for Thursday nights on the street. I have always felt that whatever God provided was right. Many times I would look at what was in the car and say that it must be going to be a small crowd that night. Other times, the car would be full, and I would know that the crowd would be large. Years ago, my godfather, Alex Smerkanich, of blessed memory, asked me how many sandwiches I needed on an average night. I told him I had no idea. He was very Type A, so he was not at all happy with my answer. He recruited people to sign up to make sandwiches on certain weeks of the month and wanted to know how many loaves he needed to get commitments for. I told him that I had never had to bring any home. His goal was to get me so many sandwiches that I had to bring some home. OK. Within three months, he did that, so he knew his ballpark number. We really don’t know if we have met all the need unless there are leftovers.

We regularly give out blankets. Normally we have to ration them out to whoever asked first for them. The last two weeks we have had a wonderful experience! We were able to just put all the blankets out and let everyone take as many as they wanted or needed. The week before last, I hollered to give away the last one and someone took it to give it to someone who wasn’t there. Last week I took two home. These are beautiful, plush blankets made by the Matushka Olga Sewing Group at St. Philip Orthodox Church, Souderton, PA. God bless you! We also gave away many scarves made from the remnants of the fabric. It was like a free bazaar!

What a blessing!

To honor Fr. Christos

ChristofidisFather Christos Christofidis is being transferred from Holy Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Elkins Park, PA to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Wilmington, DE, the end of this month. For the last few years Fr. Christos & Presvytera Joanna have led a team of cheerful volunteers to serve with us among the homeless. A couple of years ago, they took over providing all of the food for the last week of the month, with Presvy. Joanna doing the lion’s share of the preparation. We thank them for their service and their friendship. They don’t serve out of a do-gooder mentality, but out of a truly human spirit of humility and kindness. As for the food, the golden rule is observed. The guys always look forward to “Greek night.”

In Honor and Love of Father Christos from the Annunciation Bible Study Class, a $100 donation has been made to The King’s Jubilee.