Complicated Celebrations

by Owen Chandler

24 October 2016
Camp Taji, Iraq

Beloved Saguaro Christian Church,

Greetings brothers and sisters! On this somewhat comfortable day here in Iraq, I carry my hope for you onto the pages you now read. Each day I wake with prayers for you on my heart and rejoice with you all the ways that God continues to shape and guide your lives and ministries. Celebration seems to be the theme these days. There is much to celebrate in the life of Saguaro. You held special services of worship to honor all the ways you are addressing hunger at the church’s doorstep.  Many of you experienced the beautiful renewal of a spiritual retreat. The celebrations continue as you welcomed back Sarah Williams from India. In a world where people often wonder whether the spirit of the Living God still moves, it is meaningful to know that your ministries harness this spiritual gift.

Please know that I am doing well and that I am safe. No surprise, but I still miss my family terribly. Watching birthdays over FaceTime is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you actually get to witness the celebration, a privilege which many soldiers before me did not have. On the other hand, that tiny screen makes it painfully obvious that you are not there.

Thankfully, the weather is finally beginning to cool, which is a welcome reprieve. For whatever reason, the break in heat has decreased the intensity of the smells around here. I look forward to the day where I am not overwhelmed by the smell which I call, “Essence of Dirty Dudes and Toxic Dust”. At this point in the deployment, it is really about focusing on the small victories.

Celebrations are not always free of complications. These days our attention keeps a close watch on the happenings in Mosul, and the turning of the calendar which promises our return home. We spent successful months helping prepare the Iraqis for the fight. As we go about our day-to-day, one can’t help to look at the television screens and see the evidence of our logistical support for the effort up there. We resist the temptation to celebrate our efforts knowing that the fight there will be fierce and prolonged. I ask for you to pray for the families that are caught in the crossfire. It broke my heart to hear of a small village being massacred after the liberating forces moved too soon and DAESH circled back into the middle of the celebration leaving few alive. I cannot imagine such an evil, but I force myself to pray that God might change their hearts.

Like you at Saguaro, this past month was a time of celebration for me as well. The new Resiliency Center opened. We had a beautiful ceremony that was well-attended. Honestly, the Center (and especially the chapel within) is probably the nicest military-use building in Iraq. I called in all my favors for this project! Already we have uniquely increased the capacity of our  care for the soldiers here in Iraq. We are learning that we are only scratching the surface of the Center’s full potential. When I hand over the Center soon, I pray that the new chaplains will take renewed energy and keep the momentum going. I hope that God will give them vision to see the opportunity this tool gives them in caring for our soldiers. I am thankful to be able to leave behind such a legacy.

Additionally, the time for my deployment personnel evaluation came due this month. Nothing brings back flashbacks of middle school more quickly than when the evaluations are conducted. The effort I provided was rated as Lieutenant Colonel quality work and I earned the highest evaluation, “top blocked”. I am not trying to boast, but I worked hard for the evaluation. That is the funny thing about the Army. You get report cards. When you get a good one, it is hard not to rush home to the people you love and pin it to the refrigerator!

I’m not going to lie; these days are a strange brew of emotions as I consider all the ways celebration manifested itself in October. It occurred to me last night on my walk back from the chapel that this week marks the 10th anniversary of my ordination. It seems like just yesterday. I remember waiting for the service to start at my home church in Henderson, Kentucky. Emily, my lady friend soon-to-be wife at the time, peeked her head into the office where I was sitting to let me know that the church wasn’t on fire. She guessed God was okay with the proceedings (I may be misremembering the exact details of this moment but it is more fun this way). I do remember clearly a retired minister sitting across from me. He smiled, “This is the official start of a great and challenging journey!”

As I type these words in Iraq, I can’t help but think that his observation was the understatement of a lifetime. Ministry has seldom been what I thought it would be – good and bad. Over the years I’ve made many mistakes and I’ve witnessed blessings beyond reason. And yet, here I am, thankful for the journey which humbles, bewilders, and stretches. It appears that God has not given up on me and neither have you.

We are getting closer.

What Pastors Need to Know about Spiritual Directors

by Teresa Blythe

There was a time when ordained ministers served mostly as local church pastors. That is no longer the case. As churches shrink, specialized ministry becomes the first choice for many of us.

Although specialized ministry encompasses a wide range of “outside the church” professions such as chaplaincy and non-profit work, I am writing today about spiritual direction. At a recent convocation of specialized ministers of the Southwest Conference UCC we talked at length about how local pastors and specialized ministers could better understand one another.

I am aware that many local pastors are familiar with spiritual direction from either having a director of their own or feeling guilty because they haven’t gotten around to finding one! But pastors may not know all you need to know about the care and education of the spiritual director. Here are five things I think you should know:

  1. We are educated for this ministry.  Anyone who does spiritual direction for a living or as a “side hustle” should have graduated from a training program. (I say should have because the profession is not regulated nor does it have any standard certification process that all spiritual directors must complete.) If we are ordained to the ministry of spiritual direction, as I am, we have the requisite M.Div. plus the extra training it takes to learn how to do the most highly regarded form of spiritual direction—the evocative method (you share, we mostly listen and draw your attention to where the Spirit may be at work in you). If we are ordained you can be sure we have gone through our denomination’s sometimes rigorous process of becoming ordained to specialized ministry with all the accountability and standard of ethics that goes along with that. One does not have to be ordained to be an excellent spiritual director, but training is essential. I will go out on a limb and say that unless you are a quite elderly religious professional who became a director before there were training programs, you must go through a training program to be any good at the ministry. These programs vary greatly, and frankly that is a problem for the profession, but a certificate of completion usually guarantees that the person has learned the basics. By the way, lots of local pastors attend these training programs and become spiritual directors. They find it gives them a new and helpful lens in which to work pastorally with their congregation.

  1. We are usually contemplatives by nature. While pastors vary widely in temperament—from the jolly extrovert to the pensive thinker-types—most spiritual directors are gentle, quiet and contemplative. The practice of spiritual direction demands patience and stillness of heart in the director. We spend a considerable amount of time listening to our directees share their sacred stories. Good spiritual directors always listen more than they talk. Because of our contemplative nature, we are good at helping activist pastors and churches calm down and savor the slow work of God. If you have a spiritual director in your midst, I hope you are calling on their special gifts for pastoral care, education and showing up as the “non-anxious presence” in times of conflict.

  1. We want to have a collegial relationship with you. Spiritual directors suffer when we live and work in isolation. We need contact with you for fellowship and camaraderie. We can offer you a listening ear when you need to share about a confidential matter (even if you are not one of our directees—we usually don’t mind informally putting on the director hat for you now and then). We are especially aware of issues of boundaries in ministry. Because the spiritual direction relationship is unique and highly confidential, we are usually pretty strict about boundaries. Many pastors have appreciated bouncing ideas concerning the personal limits they set with parishioners off me. And I’m glad to help.

  1. We sometimes need your help. Since many of us are introverts and contemplatives, we are (as a group) not great at marketing ourselves and our work. Any marketing we do is of the “soft sell” variety. If you respect our work, then please talk about it with your clergy friends, parishioners and staff. Encourage us to contribute to your church newsletters, offer classes or show up at some business meetings to observe and reflect what we notice. I know I have benefitted greatly from the support I get from the local church where I now am on staff part-time. In fact, if you need help with pastoral care and visitation you might consider hiring a spiritual director. It’s not exactly the same work we do in direction sessions but it translates well.

Another way you can help us is by understanding the nature of the work we do. Spiritual directors are responsible for staying deeply in touch with the Spirit so that we can be of service in our one-hour sessions.  So if we don’t take you up on all those great suggestions I just mentioned, it’s because spiritual direction work can be emotionally taxing. And we are taught to know our limits and not become overwhelmed with busywork, so we guard our work time carefully. It’s nothing personal. Pastors could learn some things from us about taking charge of one’s work schedule.

The best way you can help a spiritual director that you know and like is by finding out if we are taking on new directees and if we want referrals from you. Most of the clients we receive are from word-of-mouth. Let us drop off a set of brochures or business cards with our contact information so that when you encounter someone who wants or needs spiritual direction, you can offer them a name.

  1. We want to be your spiritual director. Provided we are not working for you or are close friends with you (or your family), we’d like to work with you in direction. Religious professionals make up a lot of our clientele and they tell us it’s the best $60 – $80 dollars a month they spend. We know your special needs and have heard a lot of stories about life as an employee for a volunteer organization! We hold a great deal of compassion for pastors and the peaks and valleys you encounter. If you are not in spiritual direction, I highly recommend you check it out. The history of spiritual direction dates back over 1500 years when it began in Catholic religious orders. For hundreds of years it was a practice that priests enjoyed. It’s now a practice for all, but especially for clergy!

These are just a few thoughts about how the specialized ministry of spiritual direction can work hand-in-hand with traditional parish ministry. You may have questions or some creative ideas of your own to share. I’d love to hear from you. Contact me at teresa@teresablythe.net and let’s talk.

 

Speaking Truth is a Duty

guest post by Kay Huggins, Interim Executive Director, New Mexico Conference of Churches

I’ve been speaking with pastors over the past two months and although I have 5 specific questions, the content of these conversations is deep and wide. A few themes are emerging:

Hope: I anticipated hearing at least a few complaints, but frankly, there have been precious few. Most pastors experience great satisfaction and joy in their callings; some feel overwhelmed; but, rarely is heard a discouraging word. Moreover, the sense of hope is linked to growth among the members and leaders of the churches: new ideas, new visions, new challenges and new opportunities are combining to create new steps for Jesus’ followers.

Relationships: Every pastor, at some point and always in a unique manner, identified ministry as grounded in strong relationships: with family, colleagues, members, neighbors, and friends. Moreover, all affirmed that their effectiveness in ministry is directly related to these relationships. Most spend time and energy being with others — so that together, they will be strong for doing the ministries entrusted to them.

Speaking out…together: This theme included a bit of sadness and/or frustration. Almost every pastor interviewed expressed a passion for speaking the truth of our Christian values and convictions in a bold and free way; but also expressed was the persistent awareness that in our culture, the voice of many churches is inaudible. The “Christian voice” has been kidnapped by evangelical or conservative churches and the progressive or socially engaged churches have been put on mute. The pastors I interviewed longed for to speak out, together, and be heard.

In these days of political turmoil and distress, the voice of the silenced progressive, socially engaged and liberal Christian churches is needed. A very helpful article, “Unprohibited speech“, Christian Century, July 20, 2016 reminds:

“There’s no law against religious leaders speaking and living out the truths of their faith…What (by law) is prohibited is an explicit endorsement of a candidate.”

This is followed by a stirring string of strong words churches may speak.

“Churches are free to say that a candidate who threatens opponents with violence is undermining the basis of community.

They are free to say that a candidate who targets people of one religion for discriminatory treatment is attacking the basis of everyone’s religious freedom.

They are free to say that campaigning by name-calling and personal insult is an affront to reason.

And they are free to say that a candidate who sneers at the disabled, ridicules people because of their appearance, and promises to engage in torture fails to understand that all humans are made in the image of God.”

Dear ecumenical community, we are old and young, rich and poor, Protestant and Roman Catholics living in New Mexico; let us speak up as individuals, as church leaders, as congregations, as an ecumenical community of believers. Let us claim the freedom we have to lift up our distinct and deep Christian values…especially within the current political context.

Share with me your statements and I will share them with the ecumenical community of the New Mexico Conference of Churches.

I remain, steadfastly, Kay Huggins, Interim Executive Director.

Places of Health and Healing

by Karen MacDonald

In a training for faith community members and leaders, I often ask participants to name places that enhance health.  Answers usually include things like doctors, gyms, clinics, the local Area Agency on Aging, organizations addressing diabetes or heart disease or dementia, hospitals, even the place where I work, Interfaith Community Services.  Every once in awhile, in a group of faith community people, the $64,000 answer comes up: our faith communities!

Indeed, for ages, spiritual sages have seen and taught the interconnectedness of our well-being—spirit, mind, body, community. The heady Age of Enlightenment (as if previous ages weren’t enlightened in their holistic views of life) separated body and spirit, science and religion.  Still, wise ones always kept alive the whole view.

The health ministry movement gained traction in the 1970’s, largely through the work of Rev. Grainger Westburg, a Lutheran pastor and hospital chaplain, and his colleagues.  Congregations are intentionally reclaiming their role as places of health and healing.  There are classes on healthy nutrition, fall prevention, mental illness/health, spiritual practices, and more.  There are yoga, tai chi, chair exercise classes, and more.  There are healing services, prayer gatherings, spiritual direction groups, and more.  There are support groups, community gardens, labyrinths, and more. There is the understanding that everything a congregation offers is interwoven to support well-being, of individuals, families, the congregation, the community.  Through all activities is threaded faith, drawing on scripture, prayer, worship, ritual, trust in the Source of Life.  As I hear from pastors and health ministry leaders, such health-minded programs enliven the life of congregations.

For a point of interest, the Health Ministries Association, the national group for anyone involved or interested in congregation-based health programs, is holding its annual conference this year in our backyard—Chandler, AZ.  Dates are September 12-14, with a lineup of inspiring speakers, enlightening workshops, meeting and learning from other participants, caring for our spirits…..it’s always a great time together.  More information on Health Ministries Association (HMA) and the conference is at www.hmassoc.org.  (Disclosure: I serve on the HMA Board.)

To health!

The Art of Playing Well Together—For Pastors and Church Leaders

by Kenneth McIntosh

We all want our churches to be healthy and effective in mission—but we know that isn’t always the case. Over the past decades I’ve seen that conflicts between pastors and lay leaders—especially church council members—are one of the most common causes of problems in congregations. The sad results of such a disconnect can include church splits, declining attendance, and pastors leaving churches.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so may I suggest that you read on through, and see if some of these thoughts are helpful for you and your congregation?

FOR ALL (CLERGY AND LAITY):

1. Don’t say “my” church.

I know, “my” church can be a sign of pride—like “my” family or “my country.” But even when used innocently, it can pave the way to a less noble use of the expression. Recall a time when church disagreements have grown serious, notice how talk of our church shifted to my church. The pastor starts talking about what won’t be allowed in my church, the deacon will be darned if such-and-such happens in my church, and by the time it reaches this level of misguided ownership, it goes to heck in a hand basket.

How to prevent such self-centered thinking? It’s better if everyone speaks of our church, so long as we includes everyone in the church and not just a faction. But really it is Christ’s church! Or God’s church, if we prefer. Church decisions shouldn’t be about what suits this person or that person, but about how any decision lead to the creation of the Beloved Community. Sometimes a little word can make a difference, so listen to yourself—do you speak of my church, our church, or God’s church?

2. No surprises!

There is only one exception to this rule, which is a surprise party in someone’s honor. Otherwise, there is never any reason to surprise someone–either with an unexpected meeting, sudden resolution, unscheduled vote, or unscheduled visit by a delegation to an office. The need by any party to bring something up in an unexpected and unannounced manner always indicates some level of distrust or malfeasance—it is prelude to a power play as surely as Caesar’s assassination on the Ides of March. If you hear that a group of people plan a surprise meeting with the pastor, or the pastor decides he has to drop in on someone with a bombshell, beg them to reconsider. If you’re at a council meeting and something gets brought up suddenly, or it’s obvious that a motion is being railroaded, say “this is rather sudden—let’s give it more time for thought.”

Of course, the positive antidote to surprise actions is communication in advance.  As a minister, I consult with the church moderator (or whichever persons will be effected) before  introducing any change. In return, I appreciate that lay leaders know to bring up any matters of substance in advance of formal discussion or action. This sort of “testing the waters” with people builds relational confidence between parties and it enables deeper thinking about decisions.

3. Fight against Common Foes—not Against Each Other

I often use this metaphor for marriage counseling, but it can apply as well to church councils and ministers. Suppose you’re walking together down a dark alley, and a bunch of thugs jump you. Instead of struggling against your attackers, you turn on one another and start beating each other up.

The picture is ludicrous, but that’s what couples sometimes do in a marriage—and pastors and church leaders do it as well. Your church is assailed with all manner of challenges—financial needs, ways to connect with the larger community, straining resources of time and energy, etc. When these foes assail a group, they sometimes turn against one another, beating up and blaming, rather than standing together as a united front and directing their combined energies against the problems. As Ben Franklin put it at the beginning of the colonial revolution, “If we don’t hang together, then we shall surely hang separately.” When troubles confront your church, seek ways to frame it as “all of us united” against the common threat.

FOR MINISTERS:

  1. Non-Anxious Presence

This comes from Rabbi Edwin Friedman’s classic book Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue. Over the past twenty years I’ve spoken to a number of pastors who agree that this is as close as it comes to a “silver bullet” for surviving church conflicts. There are two parts: (1) “Non-anxious” is self-explanatory; when you sense disagreement do all you can to reduce your own stress; try to look at it playfully and lightly. Even if there is something vital at stake, thinking of it as being of great consequence will not help the situation. Of course, keeping one’s Zen-state when others disagree with us requires considerable spiritual and mental practice. And don’t forget (2) “Presence.” This is also counter-intuitive, but when you know someone disagrees with you stay close to them relationally. When there is heat, we naturally desire to back-away; that is instinctive, but it exacerbates problems.  

Again, prevention is better than cure. The best way to ensure “non-anxious presence” is for pastor and congregants to establish good rapport. It’s easy to think “ministers are so busy, it’s a waste of time to just hang out with parishoners.” But in fact, just talking when there aren’t any heavy issues is a vital use of time. Pastors and lay leaders with well-established relationships are more likely to be able to stay in-sync and weather storms together when they arise.

2. “Watch your life and doctrine closely.”—1 Timothy 4:16

Rabbi Friedman says the primary task of a clergy person is: “take primary responsibility for his or her own position…and work to define his or her own goals and self.” Putting that in mystical terms, I recall the words of a mentor on a personal retreat: “You are the sacrament of the Holy Spirit for your congregation.” The pastor’s  own being—what they do and believe—is, as the Apostle Paul wrote, a critical element for the health of God’s church.

In the United Church of Christ, ministers are fortunate to have two outstanding documents that can aid in this. The minimal statement of a clergy person’s expectations—a list of lines to never cross—is the Ordained Minister’s Code, and particularly the section titled Ethics of Ministry. A teacher in seminary often said, “Every minister has his or her price,” a caution that no-one is above failing ethically, given the worst case scenario. Unfortunately, it is possible to gradually descend into such a worst case scenario like the proverbial frog boiling unknowingly in the pot. A regular reading of the Ordained Minister’s Code is a good way to ensure that the pastor stays far from the boiling point.

On a more positive note, the document titled The Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers of the United Church of Christ is a great summary of what the Apostle Paul enjoins when he says “watch your life and doctrine.” Its comprehensive nature can be a bit daunting at first glance, so remember that this is a listing of the ideals for ministry. The Marks of Faithful and Effective Ministers is a great summation of the high call of God so an occasional review of the marks can provide a valuable refresher for active clergy.

3. Bless the “Loyal Opposition.”

This is another excellent suggestion from Friedman. Do you know a member of your parish who always has something critical, snide or oppositional to say? The one whom you think of as the burr stuck permanently under your saddle? Yeah, you have someone in mind when you read this.

When viewed negatively, such individuals can grow to become a minister’s pitfall—like the burr that chafes until it opens a wound and then becomes infected. But there’s a way to re-interpret such a person: they are in fact doing the minister a favor. Social psychologists verify that every group needs a consistent critic; any organization comprised entirely of “yay-sayers” will stagnate. There has to be a voice of correction. Leaders don’t have to agree with that voice, but they do need to hear it.

In one of my churches there was a woman who did not profess Christianity, and who was outspoken in her disagreements. Sometimes she’d come out and say “That’s silly—do you people realize how ridiculous that sounds to people outside of this church?” I came to realize that in some cases her stinging insights were spot on. I would thank her for such remarks, and others in the church picked up on that cue. I came to privately regard her as “our congregation’s B.S. meter.” When she passed away, she donated all her remaining assets to a new church that I was then planting—and then I realized she truly was the loyal opposition.

FOR LAY LEADERS:

  1. Never Relay Anonymous Negative Comments

Would you like to know how we can destroy our churches? Ruin our pastors’ health? I’ll tell you how. It’s simple. Just make a point of telling the pastor “People are saying…”and end the sentence with a negative comment—about the music, sermon, outreach ministry–you name it. This puts the minister in a position of fear (what people? How many?) Then the minister looks at people wondering “Is it so and so?” It is double jeopardy because not knowing whom to address, the pastor has no idea how to rectify or approach the situation. No wonder Jesus tells us to confront people directly—to their face—if we must speak words of correction (Matthew 18).

The solution? If you hear someone saying negative about a third party, ask them “Have you spoken directly to so-and-so with your concern?” Especially if “so-and-so” is your pastor. Doing this could save your church.

And a tip for ministers: next time someone comes to you saying “People are saying…” Reply with this: “I’ll address that when the person concerned tells me to my face—until then, as far as I’m concerned, it isn’t real.”

2. Offer positive and specific feedback

Everyone appreciates appreciation, and clergy are no exception to the rule. But even better than gracious sentiments is specific positive feedback. So instead of “Great sermon pastor” you could say “I appreciate the way you applied the Old Testament to this week’s political events.” Rather than, “Our church is doing great,” you could say “I was pleased this week at my Rotary club meeting to hear a city councilman speak well of our refugee ministry.” Statements of this sort provide the minister with a sense of being appreciated and also provide valuable information.

The pastor(s), council members, and ministry leaders of any church are a team, and congregational health depends on their ability to play well together. Remembering these suggestions may help your team to stay successfully in the game, effectively serving God’s Beloved Community.

Values stink.

by Karen Richter

Why do you bring your children to church? Why do you think there are children sitting in the pews of your church?

If you ask parents this question (or if just now, you answered this question for yourself), you might hear answers like this:

“It’s important for me that my child learns the values of our church community.”

“I want my kid to be a good person.”

“Church provides my family with moral guidance.”

Values stink. by Karen Richter, Southwest Conference Blog southwestconferenceblog.org United Church of Christ
Can we agree than authenticity is better than shiny and happy?

Nope. Sorry – nope nope nope.

Church is not about values. Not only are there OTHER places in our society to expose your children to good values, there are BETTER places in our society to teach good values.

Scouting, team sports, community theater, chess club, school-based values curricula, VeggieTales… these are excellent sources for parents to teach their children the importance of fairness, teamwork, honesty, and cooperation. The kiddos will make friends along the way – it’ll be great!

Church MUST be more than values instruction. I’ll risk overstating my point (and annoying my readers): if we structure programs for children in churches with the goal of teaching good values, we will lose. Not only are the organizations I listed above doing great things with kids, the Gospel of grace always trumps morality.

What then takes the place of values instruction? In progressive churches, we’ve somewhat abandoned old-timey instruction. I haven’t seen a good fill-in-the-blank Bible worksheet since I was 10 years old. We’re working on abandoning a school-based model and even in some churches we’re getting rid of a star-earning, funfunfun carnival model.

What’s left? Just two principles guide children’s ministry in the post-modern era, and the earlier a child can communicate and internalize these, the better.

“At church, people love me just as I am.”

This means prioritizing relationships and connections over curricula and content. This means children participating in worship – not as cute props for adults to coo at, but as full members of the worshipping community.

“At church, I can ask questions.”

Values stink. by Karen Richter, Southwest Conference blog southwestconferenceblog.org United Church of Christ
Our kids can be like Jesus: more questions than answers!

Whether it’s a deep question like this one I got during Advent, ‘How do we know that Jesus was God’s son? What if he was just a good person?’ or it’s a question from the Our Whole Lives question box or just an everyday ‘Why?’ – questions are at the heart of the spiritual journey for every person. When our churches are safe places for questions, doubt, experiential pondering, they will thrive.

In fact, what would our churches look like if every person at every age and in every situation can express these same ideas:

“At church, people love me just as I am.”

“At church, I can ask questions.”

So, yeah, values stink. The Good News we have is so much better, deeper, and wider than values.

Peace to us all in 2016.

Solidarity in Mission

by Amos Smith

Church of the Painted Hills, UCC (CPH) has had a long term mission focus on Casa Maria Soup Kitchen, which is a Catholic Worker House inspired by Dorothy Day. Casa Maria focuses on feeding Tucson’s homeless population.

On October 30th, 2014 CPH invited the Casa Maria Kitchen workers to CPH for a dinner that we provided. The dinner gave us a more intimate look into the faces behind Casa Maria.

Each of the workers talked about what brought them to Casa Maria. We heard stories of terrible circumstances, such as Mexican border crossings in bloody shoes, abandonment, and finding food in dumpsters. Then, the workers shared how Casa Maria got them back on their feet, and how their works of mercy filled their hearts with joy.

Through the years, CPH has made sandwiches for Casa Maria on the third Tuesday of each month (many thanks to Nancy Ullrich’s leadership). Last Christmas the church also rallied and bought items Casa Maria needed: a huge new soup pot, two ladles, and a large capacity coffee maker.

Through the years, many people at CPH have volunteered at Casa Maria—hauling in deliveries of produce, making and serving soup, making sacked lunches… To continue that tradition I called Brian Flag at Casa Maria and asked him when volunteers would be most appreciated. He said that they tend to be short-handed on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

So, some interested folks and I zeroed in on Fridays. At present, Mary (pictured above), Amos, and Connie are volunteering on the first and third Fridays of each month. And Denise and Karen are volunteering on the second and fourth Fridays of each month. So at present CPH has Fridays covered at Casa Maria!

On average Casa Maria feeds 500 homeless per day and delivers 2,000 family grocery bags per week!

CPH Dinner for Casa Maria Homeless Kitchen Workers | October 30th, 2014
CPH Sandwich Making Assembly Line for Casa Maria | 2013
Large Soup Pot, Coffee Maker, & Ladles CPH gave to Casa Maria | Christmas of 2014
Amos and Mary bagging lunches for homeless at Casa Maria | September 2015