COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER - June 16
10 THINGS WORTH HIGHLIGHTING THIS WEEK . . .
BIG NEWS FROM MONDAY'S CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Village of Hope, our Micro-Shelter Community currently located at 2640 Portland Road NE (the old DMV site), will be moving to Center Street in August. All 40 of the micro-shelters will be relocated to the site at 1280 Center St. NE. Click below to see the approved site plan.
We will plan on having an open house at the site before it officially opens in August. Stay tuned for more details.
MORE BIG NEWS FROM CITY COUNCIL
C@P is excited at the prospect of partnering with the City of Salem to open a Safe Parking site on Front Street by January of 2023. The City of Council unanimously approved the plan and it will go before the budget committee next week. The site will provide:
Room for up to 40 vehicles;
24/7 staffing, including case management;
A perimeter fence for safety;
A structure with a kitchen and space for warming that guests can use;
Sanitation services, including showers.
Below are two pictures of a similar program in Eugene. Stay tuned for more details.
ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER
Church At The Park sends out a newsletter to the community about twice a month. The purpose of this newsletter is to keep community members, partners, and donors in the loop as to what is going on with C@P through:
To remind ourselves that we are all God’s beloved, created in the image of God, and deserving of dignity regardless of where we sleep at night. The primary way we do that is through our “Humanity of Homelessness” storytelling and photograph project, where we share the stories of our unsheltered neighbors.
To share relevant information about current and future projects and programs and about what is going on with C@P and other partners.
To stir, provoke, and prod through stories, songs, podcasts, and other materials.
To invite others to work with us through volunteering, donating, and participating in spiritual formation alongside the C@P community through the lectionary and other practices.
If you do not wish to continue receiving this newsletter, you’ll find an ‘Unsubscribe’ button at the bottom of the newsletter. If you would like to share this newsletter with someone else or sign up to receive the newsletter, use the buttons at the bottom.
HUMANITY OF HOMELESSNESS - STORYTELLING EVENT
C@P hosted a storytelling event at Willamette University’s Cone Chapel on Thursday, June 2nd.
Here’s what the organizer of the event, Sterling Cunio, had to say: What does it look like when a community comes together to lift their struggling residents? One answer was visible at Church at the Park’s Humanity of Homelessness storytelling event held in the Cone Chapel at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Over 100 people gathered for a night of personal stories, art, and music centering the experiences of homelessness, as well as overcoming and working to eradicate it.
The evening came alive through collaborative efforts and shared values of various community partners and sponsors (See the banner below), along with others who believe in the power of personal narratives to dissolve stigma. An event intended to highlight the humanity of our unhoused neighbors ultimately revealed an extraordinary measure of compassion displayed by workers and volunteers who co-created a space in which the typically voiceless spoke to their realities with a larger community. Compassion was heard in the applause, witnessed in the tears, and felt in the quality of attentive interest of those who attended.
Church at the Park celebrates the story tellers, Jason and Desiree, for being brave enough to share their stories. We celebrate our housed citizens showing up with empathetic hearts and open ears. We celebrate community partner contributions of resources and time due to their belief in a vision of a city where every inhabitant has access to housing.
Perhaps the greatest cause for celebration isn’t in the number of attendees or quality of presentations, but rather the empowerment of those who invisibly exist in plain slight to feel they are a part of a community that cares and drawing inspiration from that compassion to enroll in Chemeketa Community College, like Jason, after believing a brighter future was possible and support available.
When community forms caringly around those most easily discarded it becomes transformative. In that gathering, new confidence, belief, and possibilities emerge.
Yet one thing is already clear, we have a community full of compassion. Thank you for caring.
STORYTELLING EVENT FEATURED ON KMUZ RADIO
You can listen to some excerpts from the Storytelling event on KMUZ radio’s Willamette Wake Up program, hosted by Melanie Zermer. Use the link below to listen to the episode from 6/14.
HUMANITY OF HOMELESSNESS
Kelly has been with Church at the Park for several years and has served in different capacities including as a volunteer and, currently, as an employee.
Kelly has a huge heart for helping others and has shown this through helping with transporting food for food boxes, helping guests get to Helping Hands, and supporting in other ways as a volunteer.
Right now, Kelly works in our warming center and helps meet our hospitality needs.
We are very grateful to have Kelly as a part of the Church at the Park team!
JUNETEENTH IS THIS SUNDAY, JUNE 19th
Our Daily Bread recently produced a documentary film about Juneteenth. One leader said the film by Pastor Rasool Berry “is a beautiful, moving, appropriately troubling, appropriately hopeful exploration of the links between faith and freedom—from the original Juneteenth to today.”
Note: the film is approximately 75 minutes.
We are in need of MEAL PARTNERS TO SPONSOR OR MAKE MEALS for our sites. Churches, businesses, groups, or individuals can work with our team to select a meal, dessert, or other food items for one of our sites. Let us know if you are interested or if you have questions.
NON-PERISHABLE FOOD ITEMS NEEDED.We need all types of ready-to-eat/drink, non-perishable food items. Bottled water, noodle cups, granola bars, instant coffee, fruit snacks, etc. Drop off at the CCS site (3749 Portland Rd NE, all the way in the back).
WEEKLY TOUR - Join us on Thursdays at 1:30PM for a tour of the Micro-Shelter Community at our CCS site. This is a great way to connect with our leaders, meet some of our wonderful staff, and see how our sites operate. Let us know if you have questions or want to schedule a tour. Individual or group tours are available.
SHUTTLE TOUR FOR ALL SITES - Interested in taking a tour of all of our sites while having a conversation with DJ, C@P founder? We are doing tours from Noon to 2:00PM on the last Wednesday of the month. This month’s tour is on June 29. We have a bus with comfy seats for 12. Bring your own lunch. If you or your group are interested, send Krystal an email.
TURNER ROAD PROJECT FUNDING DEADLINE IS NEAR
We are trying to reach a goal of matching a $100,000 grant to make necessary upgrades and renovations for the Turner Road property. The building needs electrical, HVAC, and other upgrades, along with the addition of a commercial kitchen so we can provide meals for our different sites.
The deadline for the matching grant is June 30th. To date, we have raised $61,000. Thank you to all of you who have donated to this project! We will be launching a crowdfunding campaign on June 28th to reach out to the wider community for this project. Mark your calendars and keep an eye on our Facebook/Instagram pages if you are interested in helping with the crowdfunding by reaching out to your friends, families, and social media followers.
Each week, C@P staff engage with a reading in the Gospels from the lectionary. This week’s reading is Luke 8: 26-39, about the healing of a man possessed by demons and living in the graveyard. Jesus encounters the man and asks him his name. “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. The text seems to suggest that it is not the man answering Jesus’ question, but the demons. The man has been banished by his community to live among the graves and tombs. He has been stripped of his agency and identity and personhood by that which possesses him, and even more-so by his community. And when Jesus encounters him, he has lost his voice.
This stripping away of personhood still happens today. When we speak of those we don’t like or those whom we disagree with, we often speak in abstractions or we make generalizations: “Homeless people are __________.” “Democrats just want to _______.” “Conservatives don’t realize that _______.” When we speak in such ways, we are no longer talking about real people. We are talking about the labels that we affix to people in order to understand them, or to fit them in our worldview. In the story from Luke, a system of oppression—in this case, a group of demons—has robbed this man of his voice. A de-humanizing system speaks on his behalf. The man’s community comforts itself by banishing him from their midst. But Jesus, full of compassion, brings deliverance, healing, and restoration. We at C@P are trying to continue that very type of work. We recognize how often people need to be reminded of their dignity, their personhood, and that we are all created in the image of God. According to poet Galway Kinnell, “sometimes it is necessary to re-teach a thing its loveliness.” As we have seen, sometimes it is equally important to remind others about that, too. William Stringfellow wrote these words about the need for resurrection in light of the power of death that is so prevalent in our world: ”[Christ's] power over death is effective not just at the terminal point of a person's life but throughout one's life, during this life in this world, right now. This power is effective in the times and places in the daily lives of human beings when they are so gravely and relentlessly assailed by the claims of principalities for an idolatry that, in spite of all disguises, really surrenders to death as the reigning presence in the life of the world. [Christ’s] resurrection means the possibility of living in this life, in the very midst of death's works, safe and free from death.”
Let Them Not Say
a poem by Jane Hirshfield
Let them not say: we did not see it. We saw.
Let them not say: we did not hear it. We heard.
Let them not say: they did not taste it. We ate, we trembled.
Let them not say: it was not spoken, not written. We spoke, we witnessed with voices and hands.
Let them not say: they did nothing. We did not-enough.
Let them say, as they must say something:
A kerosene beauty. It burned.
Let them say we warmed ourselves by it, read by its light, praised, and it burned.