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  •  Um, I think you just proved the diarist's point: (14+ / 0-)
    There aren't enough beds, and the churches apparently aren't welcoming them with open arm either.

    What I read from your post is that the city is asking churches for "quite a lot"; that the code requirements are onerous; that the authorizations are slow; that the shelter can't be permanent because of conflicting codes; and that trying to help one homeless person just isn't as important to you as bashing someone who tried to help.

    "I'm sorry to sound harsh here, but this kind of passng the buck on to other part of the problem."


    I'm sorry, but I'm having a difficult time finding the "open arms" in your response.

    •  nd they are churches open your doors (5+ / 0-)

      let them sleep in the pews, do the best you can and let the city be damned. I just do not understand how a church can NOT let the homeless in regardless of codes.

      "Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we are saved by faith...."

      by snackdoodle on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 08:25:48 AM PST

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      •  I've thought about this for my church (8+ / 0-)

        which is far from Alaska.  First, I have a legal and ecclesiastical response to provide insurance, so that has to be the first phone call. Second, my folks are pretty old and frail (I'm often the youngest in the room, and I'm 59.), and I am loathe to place them in situations where they might not feel safe. There are four available public toilets and two showers in my church.  How many people can I adequately house? Do I need to provide bedding? Food? These things are logistical nightmares. And that is without the city saying that I must screen for drugs and alcohol and kick them out as soon as the temperature changes. We provide a meal a month, generous financial assistance to folks needing it, send food to our local food pantry and financial support to a number of agencies, and support a local ministry that feeds anyone who shows up once a week.  And in my church, as in most mainline (liberal) churches, the pastor doesn't get to make these decisions. They are made by a lay board, usually composed of people who are desperately overworked.

        In my city, the police, when it gets really cold, go wherever they know the homeless to gather and take them to jail for the night--without putting them in the system. So they offer a bed as good as any they would get in a shelter, and probably a lot safer. That is the complete opposite of what samanthab describes.  I can't imagine the lack of civil support she describes.

        Churches who break the law would, I assume, lose the right to do whatever assistance they are legally providing. So rather than doing a lot of "the churches should" (which I did, too, before I started actually being a pastor), look at the complexities. And don't ask someone else to commit civil disobedience unless you are already doing so.

        Five years after I chose my username, happily living somewhere else.

        by Tenn Wisc Dem on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 12:57:32 PM PST

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        •  So, in effect, you wish to be pastor of a church, (5+ / 0-)

          but are actually pastor of a combo church/business.  Please know that I don't say this with any malice--I have my own faith, once well known for charity, now not so much.  And as a nurse, I'd like to work for a hospital, you know, a place where we care for sick and injured people. But though I've been at it for about thirty years, after the first couple of years, we always, always got at least an annual lecture about the business of health care.  In a country willing to consider corporations people, it isn't a stretch to consider people as liabilities, or problems, or even as widgets.  It is frustrating and saddening though.

        •  This is a question of life or death or many of (0+ / 0-)

          these people and as a pastor I would think the FIRST thing you would do is ask yourself, what would Jesus do.

          "Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we are saved by faith...."

          by snackdoodle on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 08:07:05 PM PST

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          •  I suppose it's possible that a person (0+ / 0-)

            I've declined to help has been in a life or death situation, although I don't have any reason to believe that has happened.  In my city, the cold isn't a problem, as I said above. However, unlike Jesus, my funds are limited and I do the best I can with them.  And I ask myself what Jesus would do at least every day. There are pastors out there who don't think about the situation of the poor, who don't go out of their way to help. I am not one of them. It's a rare week that I don't help at least one family in an intolerable situation, and more than one is not unusual. For a church our size (50 on a Sunday is a good crowd.), that's a lot.

            Five years after I chose my username, happily living somewhere else.

            by Tenn Wisc Dem on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 02:39:04 PM PST

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        •  Tenn Wisc Dem, agreed 1000% (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pandoras Box

          We were talking today about making greater use of our church--and the same reality showed up.

          a)  Insurance.  Just a few years ago it was actually impossible to get liability insurance for churches, at any price.  Now it's possible, but only if those who come to use the church have their own insurance or there is someone from the church there at all times.
          b)  Facilities.  No shower at our church, and 4 toilets.  No washer/dryer.  Stringent regulations (via state and local health dept.) on use of the kitchen.
          c)  Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Certification for all those running programs or using the church...pretty much a requirement of our state.    

          And we have the same problem with the parishioners being elderly.  

          Let's face it, our old mainline churches were built for worship and education, not full-time living.  Mainline church architecture and systems were developed to funnel the resources and manpower of many parishioners to the needy--in shelters, in food-banks, etc.   We now don't HAVE "many" parishioners.  Most churches struggle to repair the roof or replace the heating system.   We don't have insurance or trained personnel available, nor funds to extensively retrofit buildings and do all that would be necessary to run shelters.    Our society really NEEDS dedicated shelters with dedicated staff, to do more than emergency rescues.
          And I don't know about you, but I don't have a community van to cruise the streets in winter.  I don't have gas money.  Matter of fact I had to borrow money to get my 10 year old car to pass inspection--seems I'd been driving with TWO broken front axles for the past many months.

          "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." -Terry Pratchett

          by revsue on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 10:21:22 PM PST

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          •  I don't know a thing about the formal "running" or (0+ / 0-)

            administration of a church. But it seems clear that it is foremost an institution, and I guess that does throw up a good many roadblocks to human assistance.

            What if there wasn't a formal program? What if a door was just left unlocked? Not even any advertising of such, but what if?

            I don't necessarily want the backbone of our common good and general welfare to be church or charity based, BTW. I'd prefer my tax dollars used to support and provide for that role. But I guess I do see a role for churches, hospitals, hell, even the nicely subsidized-via-tax-incentives "hospitality industry", contributing to (what I learned as) works of mercy.  That would include each of us as individual citizens and human beings as well.

            •  At my church, there are 8 hours a week when (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              more than one person is scheduled to be in the building. So a door left open would mean either leaving my secretary vulnerable to crime or letting folks in unsupervised. One of my staff let a guy who looked like he was about to have heatstroke (more common where I live than frostbite) into the building while we were having a committee meeting--with that I'm okay. But we're a small place, we have limits.

              Five years after I chose my username, happily living somewhere else.

              by Tenn Wisc Dem on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 02:42:07 PM PST

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              •  How do you tell a criminal from a soul in need of (0+ / 0-)

                prayer from a cold or tired human? Why would your first assumption be that a predator of some sort was trying to enter the church? Are you in a high crime area?  Just trying to learn more, with due respect. I'm used to a church that is often open (and once upon a time, was always open), so I don't really understand the unsupervised thing. None of your members ever just come to pray other than during times of scheduled services? [I know a little about semi-rural fundie/holiness churches. Beyond that, not much, outside my own faith.]

                •  No, we aren't in a good neighborhood. (0+ / 0-)

                  And a woman entirely by herself shouldn't take chances even though it is likely that the person has real need. I manage to spend the money I have available, and ask God to send the ones who truly need me at the right times.

                  Members and regular attenders will always be admitted for whatever they need to do--pray, work, meetings, whatever.  They ring the doorbell, we see them on camera, and we go let them in.

                  Yesterday I had three people come in my church for help. Two of them got it. The third wasn't willing to adhere to my requirements, which were really not that strict. I want to see a picture id (I don't care from where), or get some information that demonstrates that what you tell me is true.  The one who couldn't provide that was more likely to be the one ripping me off.

                  I had three folks come today, but I was alone, so I didn't help. And the amount I'd spent yesterday was pretty much my budget for the week, anyway.

                  I learned a while ago that my BS meter isn't good enough. I am far too likely to think someone is in need when they are really trying to rip me off than the other way around.  I have battle scars to prove that. So I put rules on myself so that I don't get carried away too often.

                  Five years after I chose my username, happily living somewhere else.

                  by Tenn Wisc Dem on Wed Nov 30, 2011 at 11:20:53 AM PST

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