Back in January, when we were featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer about out fundraiser to stop our foreclosure on our house, Sue and Jim Reichwein contacted me with this idea. They wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise funds for grocery money for The King’s Jubilee. I don’t know how all of this works, but they have a goal to get to the top of the tallest peak in Africa and down safely and at the same time raise at least $5,000 for The King’s Jubilee in store credit at a local grocery store. They left on Wednesday. On Thursday, they were in Qatar, they should be climbing now. Please pray for their safety.
Here is the email they sent out:
Jim and I want to fill you in on a challenge that we are excited to take on. In an effort to honor and commemorate my father, Charlie Graham, who passed away in October, Jim and I are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa. We leave for our trip on Wednesday and will return on June 2nd. We’ve been training for this endeavor and are excited to take on this rigorous seven-day climb with high expectations and spiritual reverence.
A more tangible way in which we would like to honor Charlie is by raising money for a gentleman that we have met named Cranford Coulter – a kind soul who lives his life in service to others. Jim and I have sat with Cranford. He is the “real deal”, living his life to serve others, even though he has so little. His actions are inspiring and what we all hope to emulate in our own personal actions every day. For the past several years, Cranford has shopped and purchased food at local supermarkets, prepared homemade meals and traveled to Center City to feed homeless folks every week. He’s been featured in several newspaper articles for his selfless acts of kindness and generosity. [His picture and urls to an article are attached below if you would like additional details.]
Unfortunately, Cranford’s health issues no longer allow him to maintain gainful employment, and, as a result, he alone cannot afford to purchase the groceries he needs to continue cooking for the homeless. It is our objective to raise money through our climb and use the proceeds to set up Cranford with an account at his local supermarket. We want to support him so that he can continue to serve those that are in need of a hot meal without the additional burden of finding funds to purchase food. Cranford reminds us of Charlie, and we want to honor Charlie through this fund-raising effort.
Our goal is to raise $5,000 in funds to purchase grocery gift cards where Cranford shops for food in his home town of Souderton. If you would like to contribute, you can visit the “Woody’s Circle of Care” website at http://www.woodyscircleofcare.org. The website is set up to accept donations using a credit card. If you would rather send a check, please make it out to “Woody’s Circle of Care” and mail it to our home address c/o: Jim and Sue Reichwein, 6 Flint Circle, Doylestown PA 18901.
Jim and I are excited to take on this challenge to both honor the memory of my father, Charlie, and to support Cranford’s efforts to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Thank you in advance for your support and generosity in supporting our cause.
Suzi and Jimbo (and the Reichwein crew – Cal, Jake, Casey and Jada)
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.
I am back at it with the next in our Lily Gilding series. I don’t paint daylilies. I paint with them. This is a photograph of a Backdraft Daylily, from last summer, right next to our front step, sort of. I modified it using several filters and adjustments, then cropped it just right. I call it Phoenix as it shows the persistence of new life and hope, even in the midst of entropy and crumbling bricks.
When you buy one of these limited edition prints or Zazzle products, know that this is exactly what you are promoting and enabling through the proceeds at The King’s Jubilee. Each time you look at it, be emboldened to hope and to pray for positive change that we may rise from the ashes of our fallenness to see in each and every man, woman and child, a sister or a brother, worthy of dignity, respect, and care.
This is a copyrighted piece of original art. It is not to be printed without express permission of the artist. It may only be shared in the complete context of this article, please! It is quite striking at full size, 12″ x 12″. This is a very limited edition of ten numbered, signed pieces. Please inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org for prices and details.
Since it is spring, we are working in our gardens. We have high hopes for our plants. It only seems right that we should pray for them. Our friend and brother, Gregory Leslie Swift composed this poem as a garden prayer. It evokes the Breastplate of St. Patrick in its composition and beauty. I placed it next to an unedited photo of a row of daylilies by our driveway at The King’s Jubilee. We are offering 8″ x 10″ prints on cardstock, suitable for framing for a $25 donation plus $10 Priority Mail postage. The copyright belongs to Leslie K. Swift (Christian name, Gregory).
Prayer for the Green Things
The upholding of the Three beneath you,
the enfolding of the Three around you,
the smiling of the Three upon you.
Mild sun to warm and light you,
gentle rain to ease your thirst.
No pest nor blight to do you harm,
no pest nor blight to hurt you.
The hand of God to keep you,
the hand of the tender to tend and rule,
the heart of the tender to bow and tend,
the hope of the tender to wait and tend,
the Son of God to tend and rule.
February marks the 25th anniversary of The King’s Jubilee. I dug out a bunch of the old newsletters and other literature today. The hand traced logo is from a newsletter I did in marker in 1996 after people complained about the print quality of my printer. In 1994, our entire annual budget was less that $4,000. With that we served over 9,000 meals in Philadelphia, Pottstown and Stowe, and led a Monday Evening Bible Institute, two prison Bible studies, established a Spanish ministry in Graterford Prison; printed an inmate newsletter; established a new homeless ministry in Upper Darby; provided personal care kits via our Project: Lydia program in the Northampton Co. Women’s Prison. I have never received a salary for this ministry. I have basically worked at it pretty much as a full time volunteer. I started to write another paragraph about the various ministries we have done or attempted through the years, but decided to do it as a bullet list, instead. I’m not sure of all the dates.
Wednesday, General population Bible study, Graterford Prison, 1989 – 1996
Christmas morning at Graterford Prison with Bethann & April, 1989 – 1995
Serving hot meals and sandwiches to the homeless and poor in Center City Philadelphia, along with clothing, blankets & toiletries. 1987 – present
All day Music Festivals with free food for the poor and homeless and the community. We called them “Victory Parties”, because we were sounding the trumpet, to declare Jesus’ victory over homelessness and poverty, in the early nineties. Twice in Philadelphia, Pottstown, Phoenixville, & Upper Darby.
Film with discussion series on various social issues, held in different church halls.
TKJ Monday Evening Bible Institute, 1993 – 1996
Established Spanish language ministry in Graterford Prison. It continues to this day, although not under our leadership. We were just the catalyst to open the door.
Inmate Correspondence Discipleship Course
TKJ Inmate edited newsletter
Sunday evening support prayer meetings / house fellowships in East Greenville, Pottstown & Upper Darby, PA & Columbia, SC.
“Clothesline” free clothing ministry in East Greenville. We facilitated it, found its new home and ran it for a little while. April designed its logo when she was in high school. They still use it. Peace Mennonite Church still operates it 20 years later.
Project: Lydia, personal care items in hand made drawstring bags distributed to all of the women inmates in the Northampton County Prison. Only for a few months. Then they disallowed us.
Serving hot meals and sandwiches, etc., in Pottstown and Stowe, 1990 – 199?
Serving hot meals and sandwiches, etc., in Columbia, SC, 1991 – 199? (We got it started, then entrusted it to a local church. We are not interested in empire building.)
Serving meals to the homeless and poor in Upper Darby. 1992 – 1996
Power Packs, relatively non-perishable snack bags for folks to take with them for the next day, 1992 – present
Stocking cupboards with staples and basic utensils when people move off the street. 1995 – present. We are launching an organized program to do that, now, called “Jubilee Pantry”.
I’m sure I forgot some things. That’s OK. Through the years, we have also helped several homeless students buy books and computers to complete their studies. One man presented me with his graduation program and a thank you note when he graduated cum laude as a nurse. We have helped other front lines ministries with materials, computers and funds. Once we even delivered a used, electric golfcart to Ora Love so she could get around the project with all of her books and equipment to teach her students.
During Mayor Rendell’s years, we were investigated by undercover police at least three times that I was aware of. I told them that we were willing to go to jail before we would quit, because we had to obey God rather than men. Fast Eddy Rendell thought that the homeless were like dogs and that if we would only stop feeding them, they would go to someone else’s city. I assured him on the three occasions when I met him that no one was on the street because the food was that good! Since then, I have been told that my soup is better than what they serve at The Four Seasons. I still stand by my statement. We have been chased from one park to another. Policemen have harrassed us. Once I was told that Fairmount Park was private property . I took that officer’s name and badge number. He got a civics lesson from his commanding officer the next day. We have witnessed knife fights and fist fights and one shooting. Brownie shot Peaches in the butt with a 22. Most thought she had it coming. The two of them have been more or less happily married for over 15 years now. Ain’t love grand!
Once, the Fruit of Islam at Graterford put a hit out on me, and some other inmates put out a counter hit to protect me, stating that if anything happened to me, Nation of Islam inmates were going to die. They apparently circulated my photo around Phila. Les Bucher & I were coming home from serving one night and we were being ambushed, with a car in front and a car behind and a man in a long coat in the summertime with a big gun in his pocket came running up to Les’s side of the van. He started to raise the gun. He spots me in the “shotgun” position, and says, “O, it’s you, Cranford. Have a nice night!” A signal was given and the car in front moved and we were allowed to leave. Another time, I was taken at gun point from my workplace by an ex-offender so I could get him admitted to a drug rehab while he was high as a kite. Interesting times.
Working in prison and on the street changed me and changed my theology. This has alarmed my old fundamentalist friends. However, a theology that bears bad fruit in the real world is invalid. If it leads me to see my brothers and sisters as “other” or inferior or “market” and not simply as somebody’s children, who are trying to muddle through as best they can figuring it out as they go like I am, then I don’t need it. “Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.” (Kahlil Gibran)
Through the years, I worked at various jobs to support myself and my family. I always needed something with a flexible schedule so that I could do this work. Finally, I started “Come and See” Icons, Books & Art in January 2001 thinking it would be flexible and could grow and support the ministry. I was doing this out of our half twin in East Greenville, making the icons in a tiny space in the basement and finishing them in a tiny spare bedroom, which was also the office and mailing center. We finally decided to take the leap and move closer to church, to a place with an outbuilding that we hoped to house the business in in May 2006. It required major rebuilding. I set to work to do that. It took money. Some money came in, but then was delayed for a year. By the time we received it I had serious health issues, so I could not do as much. The business also got interrupted repeatedly by my health issues, an infection on my spine, then reaction to the antibiotic that nearly killed me; six months later migrainous strokes. Then debilitating strokes for three months, etc. Finally, the business went under in July of 2013, after never really showing a profit. A major flaw in my business plan was that my main competition was monks.
In 2012, we had to sue Mayor Nutter and the City of Philadelphia, after he decreed that serving free food in the parks to needy people was illegal. We won an injunction and that decision has become a landmark for other groups to fight and win against similar oppressive regulations across the country.
Dr. Jerry Burke & Dr. Peter Psomiadis organized the Hummus Open Golf Tounament. We had the 2nd Annual in 2012 where we debuted the most unusual trophy in sport, The Garbanzo. In 2013, we took it up another notch and introduced commemorative tournament hats.
We have been featured a lot in the press lately, since Charli Riggle encouraged me to do a Gofundme to save our home from foreclosure in conjunction with the almsgiving Facebook group drive she coordinated. She started the press connections as well. It eventually made it onto both the very local and the national scene. We raised over $45,000 and were able to save our home from foreclosure as well as a neighbor’s, for now. We raised the profile of the ministry and gained a few more monthly donors. We need many more to make this truly sustaining. I have been essentially working two full time jobs for nearly 25 years. No wonder I had a dozen or more strokes! We can end homelessness in Philadelphia. We need your support to be able to work at it to do that, without having to worry about not having insurance for Bethann and losing the house again in another year. Please make a monthly pledge. It’s easy and automatic on Paypal. If everyone who liked us on Facebook would give $10/month, we would have more than we have ever had to work with, ever. That is a McDonald’s meal (blecch!) skipped for you, which would allow us to move forward, full time to develop the ministry in some marvelous ways! We cannot do this ministry without you. We just give your alms away.
Last night was like a little “homecoming”. Several of the ‘old heads’ that we knew from the early days on the street came out to see us on the street. They have moved off the street into housing a while ago, so I haven’t seen them for some time. A few of them I have known since 1985 when I started as a chaplain in Philadelphia prisons. Two of them continued with me at Graterford State Prison. After they were released, I saw them on the street. I saw John shoot Peaches in the butt with a .22 pistol in front of the family court building on a rainy night 20 years ago. Sadly, everyone sort of agreed she had it coming. They have been happily married for over 15 years now. Brownie asked me for prayer for his wife, “Bunny”, as she has been diagnosed with cancer and has started chemo. Her given name is Ledger. Pray for her.
I have known these men for nearly 30 years. We have aged together. When I met them, they were rough and rowdy young bucks, and I was a young idealist. We were cocksure we could take on the world and win. Now, look at us. The wrinkles are starting to show. We are just hoping to make it through the week and happy to see an old friend or two.
We have become friends with a young, Christian Pakistani, Adnan Shoukat, who was forced to flee to Sri Lanka due to persecution. Their church and neighborhood was burned down. He and his mother, Naila, have continued ministry among the poor and homeless in Sri Lanka. Others have continued their ministry in Pakistan. Please pray for them. They faithfully pray for The King’s Jubilee. These people put their lives on the line every day in the Name of Jesus Christ and to help the downtrodden and poor. If you wish to send them a donation, their information is on their website: Life Foundation Pakistan
Their mission is one of just a tiny handful of Christian organizations inside Pakistan who can legally receive money from outside of the country.
“I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.”
Adlai Stevenson sent this “prayer” on his Christmas card after he was defeated by Eisenhower. One of the people who received the Christmas card was the famed Dr. Howard Rusk, founder of the “Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine” in New York City. Rusk had the prayer, which was then known as “The Prayer of an Unknown Confederate Soldier,” placed in bronze and entitled it “A Creed for the Disabled.” It was also published in Time magazine in December 0f 1956.
A friend posted it on Facebook today and it spoke to me. I have been thinking about my path. I’m in a tight spot and in constant pain, due to damage to my spine from an infection most likely picked up from ministering on the street. But it has been an interesting path and I have met so many lovely people and helped along the way by so many gracious souls. I would not choose a different path. I am a man most richly blessed.
I know that I have friends who are receiving, or have applied for, or are thinking about applying for food stamps or Medicaid, or who are getting help from their parents, or from their church, or from the local food bank. For every one I know about, I’m sure there are others who are in the same position, but haven’t told me, because they’re embarrassed or ashamed. If that’s you, there’s something I want to tell you:
If you are ever tempted to think that you are doing wrong by asking for what you need, cut it out. Stop it. Repent. Jesus said that the rich were going to struggle to get into heaven. They might as well be camels, trying to get through the eye of a needle. They can’t do it, but God will make it possible. Your poverty, your need may be the thing that allows them to get through the needle’s eye, when they give to you.
And it really doesn’t matter if the giving is voluntary. I often hear people say that God doesn’t want us to be compelled to give. He wants us to give voluntarily. Well, of course that’s true. It is far better for us to give from a cheerful heart. But God will bless our gifts, and those who receive them, even if we give grudgingly.
Remember what St. Thomas did in India. He was hired by a prince to build a palace. He said he’d work on it, and he kept going back and asking for more money, and more money, and more money. Eventually, the prince wanted to see the palace, and St. Thomas showed him all the poor that he’d been feeding and housing and caring for. The prince, in fury, had him thrown in jail. And then the prince had a dream, in which one of his brothers who had already died came to him and showed him the great palace in Heaven that St. Thomas had been building for him by caring for the poor. St. Thomas had asked God to treat the gifts as if they’d been given freely by the prince, and God had honored that prayer. The prince was being saved by the gifts that St. Thomas was making to the poor on his behalf. Once the prince understood that, he freed St. Thomas and had him continue caring for the poor. But notice: God didn’t wait for him to give freely and cheerfully. God accepted the gifts that the prince gave to the poor, even when he didn’t know he was giving, even when he didn’t choose to give, and even when he would not have given if he’d had the choice.
By accepting the gifts of money and care and services from the rest of us, whether the gift is in an envelope slipped to you after church on Sunday morning, or whether it’s through food stamps or SSDI, or whatever it is, you are ministering to us. You are helping to free us from our attachment to the things of this world. You are helping us to repent of our worship of mammon. You are our guides and our help on the path to salvation.
For this, I make a metania and kiss both of your cheeks. Thank you.
A wonderful litany from the Friends tradition. It is unusual because the Friends are not very liturgical.
A Responsive Prayer for Justice
Pray for those who are hungry. Pray harder for those who will not feed them.
Pray for those who struggle each week to pay their bills. Pray harder for the wealthy who do not care.
Pray for those who are homeless. Pray harder for those who deny them shelter.
Pray for the sick and lonely. Pray harder for those who will not give them comfort.
Pray for those who cry out for dignity. Pray harder for those who will not listen.
Pray for those oppressed by unjust wages. Pray harder for those who exploit them.
Pray for those who bear the yoke of prejudice. Pray harder for those who discriminate against them.
Pray for those whose basic needs are denied. Pray harder for the public officials who cater to the greedy and ignore those bound unjustly.