Preparing for Worship – Heather Mustain, associate pastor.
Sunday, Nov. 15, begins a nationwide, weeklong campaign, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, to draw attention to the problem and prevalence of hunger and homelessness in America. And in partnership with the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance and Faith Forward Dallas, we have committed to using our voices in drawing our congregation’s attention once again to these two concerns that persist on a local, national and global level. I could list the statistics here, but we all know them. Hunger and homelessness rates are rising, not falling, and they disproportionately affect already marginalized communities. The pandemic has exacerbated this reality, yes, but hunger and homelessness rates in Dallas were already rising pre-pandemic.
Hunger and homelessness have been longstanding concerns of our faith community and concerns that have mobilized us to service, advocacy and friendship. Our concern is what leads us to our faithful and generous giving to community organizations who are on the ground housing the unhoused, feeding the hungry, advocating for more affordable housing and loving LGBTQ youth who have been kicked out of homes simply because of who they are. It’s what leads us to form interfaith coalitions to resolve city zoning ordinances that keep communities of faith from sheltering when the weather is life-threatening. It’s what leads us to collecting hygiene supplies, serving meals at the Bridge and Cornerstone Kitchen and gathering around dinner tables in Community Hall with women who simply fell on hard times.
Yet there remains a real temptation to feel as if hunger and homelessness are issues that are unsolvable. It was Jesus himself who said, “the poor you will always have with you,” right? Let me suggest that this temptation and misuse of Scripture may actually be what perpetuates these issues in our community.
So what can you do?
• Be kind and smile to the panhandler you pass daily.
• Participate in our holiday collections that benefit our mission partners.
• Donate new items, items you’d want, to a shelter you trust.
• Combat NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) everywhere it presents itself.
• Investigate the systems at work and when you see it not working for all, lend your voice.
And of course, continue your faithful giving to Wilshire, remaining confident that your giving is making a daily difference in the lives of those near and far.