A Note from your pastors:

Our mission states that as we are inspired by Christ, we are called to love and serve with all people to restore all of creation to God’s loving embrace. In order to follow this mission more closely, the church council of McMinnville Cooperative Ministries made a decision in June to not ask people to leave our property at night after we lock up our buildings.

Since we have not been asking people to leave at night, we have seen people decide to use this place as their place of stability.  As the church, we have consciously called these folks our “everyday congregation” to reflect that these are human beings who have value.  Folks found tents to keep the cold and wet a little at bay.  We have allowed the tents to stay with boundaries.  When people have been noisy or disruptive, we feel as though we have dealt with the bumps. When the folks who are in tents asked for more rules and understanding, we met and created rules around living together. We have seen growth in our new residents, finding ways to contribute back to the community and create community around this space.

We have been asked by city officials to remove the tents due to code and becoming a “chronic nuisance.”  We feel, as church leaders, that we simply cannot ask our people to get off of the property, especially in the middle of December when there are no other solutions. Housing is scarce, or nonexistent.  The weather is awful.   Pastor Mark and I have been talking with church staff and leaders to get creative in offering places to have the conversation. We have also looked into different forms of temporary shelter.   A petition was started to show support of the conversation.

What else can we do?

We ask that you pray.  Pray often. Pray with us.  McMinnville Cooperative Ministries will be hosting a prayer vigil on Monday December 22 at 7pm in our parking lot.  We will lift up prayers for city officials, our homeless residents, and our community for a way forward.

Sign the petition.  The petition doesn’t “do” anything.  This petition shows that you want to be part of the conversation and that you support our body trying to make a difference. It also calls out the need to leave the tents until we find other solutions without fines or extra regulations. This means that you get to make your voice be heard.

If you want to donate money or items, we are always happy to help facilitate that donation.  As we look ahead, we may need to use other resources.  We are happy to hand out hygiene kits, socks, blankets, money for emergencies through our Community Compassion Fund program, etc.

We know that this isn’t the answer.  We know that we don’t offer a long term solution. We don’t have the resources but we do have a passion to follow our mission to follow Jesus Christ.  We know that we must do something about the state of homelessness in our area of the world.   Do you have suggestions? We would love to hear!  Let us know.  Join us in finding more solutions for our homeless brothers and sisters.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Amber Patrick says:

    I read your blog on trust earlier today. I feel that the petition and prayer vigil for the leaders of our city and her citizens in need hold true to that sentiment. Trusting that people will do the right thing given the opportunity. However, as you said, it does not feel like enough.

    The teachings we follow of love, kindness, understanding, trust and service are not always easy to pursue day to day. But in this we have been handed an opportunity, just as the city and our neighbors in the tents outside have been. And the only way to be true to our mission and ourselves is to let our hearts answer that call.

    Homelessness and food insecurity are challenges that my family has fought toe to toe and so the situation developing between the City of McMinnville and her homeless community has been heavy on our hearts and minds. When we were in a position of desperate need our support came from family and friends, but many of the “everyday congregation” aren’t as lucky as we were. You spoke of the growth and sense of community growing within the settlement at the COOP and between that group and the staff and members who work with them. So I ask, are they any less family than anyone else within the nation of the heart created by the COOP? Do you trust them any less? What would you do if these people were yours and being threatened as they are?

    What if it were your friend, child, brother or sister shivering in the cold, uncertain as to whether or not you would be allowed to peacefully sleep out your night? Your people, being told that their existence in a semblance of community and work toward fellowship was a “nuisance,” how would you react? For me, anger and outrage, then concern. You would bring them home. Help them to warm themselves through, to feel loved and secure. Because we know that with all of the horrible things in the world, the only way to change it for the better is through love, kindness, understanding, trust and service.

    I feel that considerations for the needs of not just the church community and the “everyday congregation” but also the surrounding organizations with the same goals at heart and the greater community have been a burden delicately balanced and beautifully measured by our church leadership. And that there are more conversations to be had with the leaders of our town, agreements to be made for the betterment of all parties. But in the meantime we cannot afford to either pay what’s being demanded or to comply and sacrifice our integrity or that of those under our care. And so your question, what do we do?

    I suggest we do just as we would with our own, bring them home. We may not have endless resources, but we do have time, a building and a strong love for our neighbors. Is there a reason we cannot open the great room nightly, with a staff or congregation member team supervising? Let them come in and be warm from 8pm to 7am or so. Sleep soundly and securely in the knowledge that we will watch over them? It would require volunteers, training, organization and a lot of love. I feel those things are within our realm. Do you?

  2. Agent X says:

    Wow! I know I am waaaaay late to the conversation, but I only just now found your blog.

    I am deeply impressed that the pastors of your community stand up to the powers that be in defense of the lowly and needy. That is a commitment I almost cannot find in the church today. It excites me to find it! Thank you. I am blessed.

    Now… it has been a year, and I wonder what has come of this mission… I hope I can find more on it perhaps on this blog…

    But whatever else, I am inspired by at least this slice of the story and hopeful for far more…

    Thank you again…

    Agent X
    Fat Beggars School of Prophets
    Lubbock, Texas

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