There are 32 churches in Wheat Ridge. On Monday, 12 of them came together to meet with city officials to talk about homelessness, human trafficking, lack of affordable housing, and other issues confronting Wheat Ridge. We wanted to talk about what we, as people of faith, could do to better meet the needs in our community.
It was eye-opening for me to hear what some nearby churches are already doing. At least four of the 12 have on-site food banks. One, Healing Waters, partners with Wheat Ridge police to distribute free car seats to parents. Others have community meals. Others have ministries to assist elderly residents in shoveling their walks, pulling weeds or otherwise bringing their homes up to code.
The representative from Queen of Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church indicated that his parish has about 800 youth that are always in search of meaningful service projects. The very idea of that many young people in a single church left the rest of us gasping in disbelief, so I googled it. Sure enough, that’s what they’ve got there. Of course, they draw Vietnamese kids from across the entire state, but they come every Sunday for worship, followed by Sunday school and Vietnamese culture classes. And mandatory charitable service projects.
This is a conversation that’s going to continue. The churches are committed to sharing ideas and resources with each other. We hope to put together a catalog of assistance that we might share with those who come to our churches seeking help. Where can they get food? Where can they get a hot meal? Where can they do some laundry? Where can they get school supplies? What’s available here in Wheat Ridge, that won’t require a trip into Denver?
This leads to my next question: What do we here at St. James have to contribute? What can we do, beyond collecting food and clothing for Family Tree, the Arvada Food Bank and Saint Francis Center? What resources do we have that could be brought to bear in addressing our community’s greatest needs?
One thing we have is space. Lots of it, both indoors and outdoors. We have a good kitchen. We have parishioners who, for the most part, are retired and so are available during the day. We have time. We have deep connections to Episcopal-affiliated ministries across the state. We have experience.
That’s just the top of MY list. What’s on YOUR list? What do you know about that we might share? What’s our human potential? How can we place ourselves in service to God in ways that we are not yet doing, maybe never even thought of doing? What is a need that we can address?
These are some of the questions I hope we can begin asking ourselves as we start gearing up for fall. God is surely leading us somewhere. I invite you to think, ponder and pray about this. We don’t have to have 800 youth to pull this off. We just have to be the church God is calling us to be.