Over the last week, a story has gone viral online about a patron of the Jubilee House and Traverse City's homeless community. The story reads as if the reporter began to write a story about a celebrity's brother and touched on several major issues before launching into the current Michigan governor and legislature.
It is striking that in the article she mentions major story lines in passing without much comment in order to get to an unsupported shot at the current leadership in Michigan.
First, she mentions in passing and without attribution that Grace Church provides the services of the Jubilee House, and that it does so in concert with other local churches. We are a part of a vast local network of outreach for our community. Second she brings up, again in passing, that this network attracts homeless from downstate to Traverse City. We have seen this issue raised before and will again. It is a major concern for any small city and its network of outreach.
These two story lines alone are real and have a depth and reach about the nature of community care and what mission means in a day like ours, when we are reclaiming a vision of local ministry and working across traditional denominational and even religious lines to address needs together.
Among the pastors we talk about "the Church of Traverse City", and we mean it. We support each other even when there are real and substantial theological differences. We follow Jesus together in some amazing ways. I give a lot of credit to the senior and previous priests and ministers in the area for creating a vision of mission and obedience to Christ that is greater than any single church. The Rev. Ed Emmenheiser here at Grace before me and the Rev. Homer Nye, recently retired from the Presbyterian Church, deserve special mention for laying a foundation of cooperation and service that is a marvel.
The reporter Eartha Jane Melzer does offer a peek into the lives of those we serve with some compassion. Anthony has suffered from frostbite, and we did have a local man lose his toes last year. We make poverty and homelessness survivable, but by no means pleasant.
There are always issues with serving a homeless and poor population, as there are with any population. We are always questioning our motives and methods to be sure. But, we follow Jesus Christ as Lord and not just Savior. We must serve the poor. We continue to try to serve in better and more appropriate ways with boundaries and chances to support change, but we first and foremost serve our Lord in them here and now.
This article gives a little clue about one of their stories along the way to saying other things. She does not mention the Jubilee House or Grace Episcopal by name, but she doesn't have to. We know who we are and whom we serve.
And we are very thankful for those who serve with us.
In His name and to His glory,