Homeless Lunch (15).JPG

In Salem, Oregon, a small movement to interact with people that experience homelessness in a relational way has formed, known as Church at the Park. As the capitol of Oregon, Salem is a central hub in the State for those that experience homelessness, incarceration, and mental illness. Until 1980, all state run human resource agencies that managed correctional facilities, mental hospitals, were mandated by law to be established within city limits. These facilities have fostered the creation of a culture characterized by recidivism and generational poverty. Cascade Gateway Park is city-operated recreational land near the southern border of the city of Salem that is home to 100+ individuals experiencing homelessness. These folks range from runaway adolescents, single-men with felonies, geriatric men and women, and families with small children. Some camp out in tents, more live out of motor vehicles. Church @the Park provides potluck style breakfast at a pavilion in the park during the summer months to any person who is willing. During the winter months, we hold a gathering in a rented space adjacent to the park. After the meal, the group worships, prays, reads a passage of Christian Scripture, and shares personal stories and reflections. Key members meet monthly to plan services, organize meals, and reflect on how best to support our community.