Tag Archives: Memorial


Flowers for Bunny

I didn’t post what music I was listening to as I made soup yesterday on Facebook. The kitchen was silent. There were no good choices. I was in my kitchen while Brownie was in Phila. funeralizing his wife, “Bunny”. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of a volunteer and supporter who knows how to do such things, The King’s Jubilee was able to provide flowers for the funeral. I have known Brownie for over 20 years. I met him in prison, then caught up with him on the street. He and Bunny, Marilyn Ledger, have been faithfully married for over 14 years by mutual declaration and common law. He stuck with her and cared for her through her battle with cancer. He came out to ask me for prayer for her in December. Last week, when she died, he was beside himself with grief. He had no money for flowers for his beloved and wanted to make sure their were flowers. He remembered the few times that I drove him and Bunny home on cold nights and was so grateful. Memory Eternal.

Pray for Brownie that he will find a way to move forward. Another thing, we need new dishes for him, preferably unbreakable ones. He smashed all his when he got the call from the hospital that Bunny had died in her sleep.

“Lord, please take good care of Daniel.”

As we pulled up at the park at 1801 Vine to serve last night, Sadie was waiting for us. She said, “I have some bad news. Danny passed yesterday morning.”

I asked her how it happened and she told me that he just collapsed and was gone. The rest of the family wouldn’t let her see him until he was on the stretcher to be carried out. She thought they were all playing a game and she pounded his chest, telling Danny to open his eyes now, the joke was over. It was no joke. The reality of Danny’s death still had not sunk in to Sadie as of last night.

Sadie & Daniel have been mentioned three times before on this blog. The last time was in December, because Daniel could not come out on a wet night to receive his St. Nicholas coins just prior to his 38th birthday on December 7th, as he had walking pneumonia. He never recovered from that pneumonia. Sadie took him to the hospital on three occasions, because he was so bad he was coughing up blood and they turned him away, saying he was alright. Now if he had fancier insurance instead of medical assistance, or didn’t have an address in public housing, or were more assertive, or were white instead of mulatto, he may have been treated and he would live to see his grandchildren grow up. But, as I have said before, Daniel and Sadie are some of the sweetest people you would ever want to meet. They have had the worst couple of years imaginable and now this.

Daniel would always ask me how I was doing and really want to know. He wanted to know because he wanted to help in any way he could. He was always quick with cheerful encouragement. He would look up possible resources. He would check up with me to see if I followed through. I found out last night that he organized a circle of prayer intercessors among several of the men on the street. They had heard about Danny and were looking for Sadie and asked how my wife, Bethann was doing, because they remembered her from when Danny put her on their prayer list when she had her pacemaker installed.

Daniel is one of those rare people, unsinkable, in whom there is no guile. As I went to bed last night, I just spontaneously prayed over and over until I went to sleep: “Lord, please take good care of Daniel.”

In the place of thy rest, O Lord, where all thy saints repose, give rest also to the soul of thy servant Daniel, for Thou alone art the Lover of mankind.

“It’s always good to have an intention.”

damaged headstonesWe finally made it to a clean-up day at Mount Moriah Cemetery on Saturday. I left my house at 6am to load John Haggerty’s pick up with a load of furniture from Myron Starinshak’s estate to deliver to a couple of the men who have moved off of the street into an apartment, Anthony McNeil and Gregory Henderson. I delivered that to their place near Broad & Allegheny.  They joined me and we continued down to 6201 Kingsessing Ave., the Philadelphia side of Mount Moriah Cemetery. We arrived at the Cemetery a little after 8am. Hal Smith was already there and working. So we had a foursome representing The King’s Jubilee. We cut up saplings into more manageable pieces to load onto the trailers and trucks after they had been cut down by chainsaws. We yanked tall weeds and weedy shrubs. Tony got going with the scythe. He was working his way up the hill as fast or faster with that than the guy with the weed whacker was working his way down the hill.

Suicide Hill
“Suicide Hill” – This is now cleared of bramble and vines. The obelisk is clean and there is a road up the hill.

Hal stayed for the whole five hours. He’s still a young buck. I was exhausted and we packed up and left at about 12:30. I have aches where I didn’t know I have muscles. Tony was looking for Ben-Gay and worried about his legs cramping on the truck ride home. I am up writing, because I hurt too badly to sleep. Gregory, whose nickname is Kool-Aid, was making some old man noises, too, by the time we left, but, he’s allowed. He worked hard, and he’s almost as old as I am. Even so, it felt good! We cleared a lot of brush and weeds. There is another section of the cemetery that is now accessible. Progress was made. We will be back.

The Friends of Mount Moriah provided hot dogs, chili, cider, lemonade, coffee, tea, water, cookies, apple crisp, just with a donation jar there. They had a whole basket of clean, new, work gloves available for anyone to use, who didn’t bring their own. Tools were provided, though I brought my own. We could not have asked for better weather. It was a gorgeous, sunny day!

Most of the people I asked had some distant relative buried there, but not all. One lady, who I was working beside for a time, said that both sets of her husband’s grandparents were buried there. They are in a section of the cemetery that has been unmaintained for so long that they have not been able to find the graves. They come regularly to volunteer to clean up. She told me that her son-in-law’s father passed away on Friday. So she came, driving all the way from Cape May, NJ, and did this in his memory. She said, “I think, it’s always good to have an intention.”

Let’s be about doing good works. Let’s be people of action!

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.  As it is written:
“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-9

Memory Eternal, Barry Stavrou.

Our sympathy in Christ to Christine Stavrou and the entire Stavrou family at the passing of beloved husband and father, Barry Stavrou.

Barry, along with his wife, Christine, have been faithful supporters of The King’s Jubilee, through prayer support, patronage of “Come and See” Icons, and encouragement. Barry reposed peacefully in the Lord yesterday following an heroic struggle with cancer.  Barry helped oversee renovations and preservation of St. John Chrysostom Albanian Orthodox Church in center city Philadelphia. Before leaving for Georgia, Barry oversaw the construction of both phases of St. Philip’s church building, and upon returning to Pennsylvania recently, spearheaded several renovation projects.  He will be greatly missed.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to The King’s Jubilee, which can be given through St Philip’s (or directly using the Paypal Donate button and we will give the family a card with your specified greeting).  The King’s Jubilee has been ministering in Jesus’ Name among poor and homeless people in Philadelphia since February of 1989, currently traveling down weekly to serve meals to nearly 200 people.  We also seek to equip and encourage any who wish to join them in similar service, wherever they are located.

Services will be held at St Philip’s as follows:

Monday, October 1:
Viewing 7-9 p.m.  (Trisagion at 8 p.m.)

Tuesday, October 2:
Viewing 10-11 a.m.
Funeral  11 a.m.
followed by burial at St Philip’s Cemetery & Mercy Meal in the Great Room

St Philip Orthodox Church
1970 Clearview Rd
Souderton, PA  18964

May his memory be eternal!

As a generation passes, I think, who will step in to do this work? What three men or women can we find to do what this man did?

Autumn 2012 Report

The new newsletter is available for download, printing and distribution. Please feel free to download and print this. It is in PDF format. It is designed to be printed back to back (duplex) on 8.5″ x 11″ paper then folded in half, so it can fit neatly in a church bulletin.

After over 23 years of serving on the street, we feel we are the cusp of something truly momentous. That is why Satan is attacking so hard. We need your support.

Here it is: Autumn 2012 Report

Myron Starinshak’s Funeral

Arrangements have been made for Myron’s funeral:

It will be at St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church, Souderton, PA.

Wednesday, August 15:
6-8 pm Viewing
7 pm Trisagion Prayers
Thursday, August 16:
10-11 am Viewing
11 am Funeral followed by mercy meal.

A graveside service will be held 2PM Friday, August 17 at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, Annville.

May his memory be eternal!


Here is the link to his obituary in the local paper’s website.

Memory Eternal!

St. Myron of Crete
This icon of St. Myron of Crete was donated to St. Philip’s in honor of Myron Starinshak.

I just learned via Facebook that our dear friend, long time supporter and brother in Christ, Myron Starinshak, passed away this weekend. Before he had his strokes a few years ago, he served faithfully, riding shotgun in the TKJ-mobile with me, to serve on the streets of Philadelphia. For many years he was a true, steady bass in the choir. He helped me at a couple of icon festivals. He used to do dozens of odd jobs around church. As soon as we know funeral arrangements, I will post them.

He was faithful to the end. He will be missed. May his memory be eternal!

Are We Ready to Turn America Upside Down?

In the early years of the church, when Christianity was illegal and most Christians were slaves or peasants, they performed a service for the pagans that was so convicting, such a testament to Christ’s love for all mankind, such a recognition of the image of God in every human being, an affirmation of the value of life and the resurrection and an affront to the coldheartedness by which the pagans only valued people by their riches and station, that it was the crack in the structure that eventually led to Rome being turned on its head and Christianity becoming the dominant religion. What was that service? The Christians would go out to the city dumps and retrieve the bodies of the pagans who were too poor to afford a funeral and bury them properly with prayers. Bishop THOMAS told me that the Orthodox Church still has a service for burial of non-Christians in use.

Lately there have been a lot of deaths among friends and family of those we serve. One man has lost eight family members in the last couple of months, half to violence; the latest was his 19 year old grandson, caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting. So many of these end up cremated and disposed of by the city, because their families are too poor to afford a place to bury them. The average burial plot in Philadelphia costs $6,000. For years, I have been grieved whenever I have thought of indignity piled upon indignity for the homeless whom I have known, and for those grieving their passing; to have their bodies incinerated by the city and disposed of like so much refuse. I am sure the city tries to deal with this with as much respect and dignity as they can muster. There is probably a plot somewhere where the “cremains” are somberly placed. They do what they can afford to do. I am not faulting them.

When we started The King’s Jubilee, the intention was not that it was just going to be about feeding homeless people on one or two nights a week. We had a vision to make a much larger impact. We wanted to protect or introduce greenspace in the city. One of the fundamental causes for homelessness and disintegration of society is our disconnection from the natural cycle of things; sowing and reaping; composted leaves feeding flowers and vegetables; life from death; hard work produces beauty and bounty. I have fallen in love with idea of restoring native habitats. I think if we involve some of these broken, beat up people in an enterprise of restoring acreage to native plants and tend it to keep it in a good balance to propagate itself and attract natural pollinators, birds, insect, butterflies, it has the potential for great healing. If we do this in a context of worship and prayer to God and a community of love and respect for one another, it has the potential to be revolutionary.

In early October, Bishop THOMAS told me to dream big for The King’s Jubilee. What would we do, if we could buy a facility and staff it, even if it cost a million or a million and a half dollars? That question has had me pretty tense and basically stumped until this last Thursday. It was Thursday that the ideas of the last three paragraphs finally collided in my careenium. (Most people spell this “cranium.”) I called Nick Papas to share my idea with him. I envision a cemetery where we can bury all of the abandoned poor in Philadelphia, in traditional fashion. Modern embalming is contrary to the canons of the church and dishonoring to the body and polluting to the earth, so we would not use that. We would use traditional myrrh. We would use colorful, handcrafted, grave markers. The property would be entirely planted in native plants and would help support itself by also serving as a nursery and educational resource for native plants. We would hire homeless people to tend the grounds. If possible, a shop would be added adjacent or on premises to build simple coffins and fabricate vaults, if they are required. The homeless would be trained in work skills and life skills working alongside staff and volunteers in landscaping, gravemarker fabricating, coffin building, tree pruning, grave digging, snow removal in the winter, etc. Friendships would be forged. Connections would be made. When the time is right, they could transition to employment in the wider community making room for someone else.

Thursday evening I shared my idea with Deacon Herman Acker, on the road to and from Phila. He said, “How could anyone be against such a thing?” We were excited, but at the same time I thought, what is the likelihood that there is any ground where we could do such a thing in or near Philadelphia? We think it would be a high impact ministry for the Orthodox Church. Who are these strange people who would take such care to bury people whose own families abandoned while they were alive? Who are these strange Christians who even bury the poor, Muslim dead? What kind of ministry turns around to bring such beauty to a city that has tried to chase it out for a quarter of a century? It could be the start of something big.

When I got home, I did a simple computer search. On the second page of results was an amazing thing. It is a derelict cemetery partly in Philadelphia that needs a non-profit org. to take over its operation. It is the largest cemetery in Pennsylvania with 380 acres. We are going down to see it on Monday. Pray! I spoke with Bishop THOMAS about it this afternoon. He likes the concept. He said he didn’t think the million dollars in start up money was the biggest hurdle. It sounds crazy, but I agree. Pray! We need to have our ducks in a row as to how to properly manage this. Please pray for wisdom. Several of us are going to visit it on Monday. We plan on meeting some of the concerned neighbors next Saturday. Pray!

Until the Bishop comes through with the big donor, we still need money to keep laying the groundwork for the dream. Please use the Donate button or mail a check. May God bless you!

A Prayer For the Dead

Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend the souls of thy servants, NN., and beseech Thee to grant them rest in the place of thy rest, where all thy blessed Saints repose, and where the light of thy countenance shineth forever. And I beseech Thee also to grant that our present lives may be godly, sober, and blameless, that, we too may be made worthy to enter into thy heavenly Kingdom with those we love but see no longer: for Thou art the Resurrection, and the Life, and the Repose of thy departed servants, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Harry F. Mason – Memory Eternal!

On Sunday, September 19, I was out of voice and feeling a bit restless. I wandered out of Matins and down to the great room for no good reason. Just then Harry Mason was being assisted into the building by his neighbor lady, who called out, “Where is your wheelchair?” I scampered around to find it. I was one of the few who knew for sure we had one, since I had brought it to the church when the McGraws had no further need of it. It was in the youth room. We helped Harry get into it and wheeled him into Matins.

Harry had stopped eating days before. He was on his death bed. Yet he made this effort to be where his heart was. Mark Smerkanich wheeled him forward when it was time for him to commune. Fr. Noah thought he left right after communing, but Harry stayed through announcements. We had to catch Father’s attention when he was making announcements, as we felt sure he was going to tell us to pray for Harry to have a good death. It would be embarrassing for us, but not for Harry at that point. Harry knew the score. This was his last opportunity to commune at St. Philip, a place he loved. He stayed for coffee hour, before his neighbor came to take him back home. He passed away early the following Saturday morning.

A few weeks later, after I had been in the hospital for almost a week and released, I was in terrible pain and sick, but I thought of Harry and went to church. If I’m going to be miserable; what better place to be than in such a place of healing?

Harry was a faithful financial and prayer supporter of this ministry, a good friend and a good example to the end. We will miss him. May his memory be eternal!