Current state of affairs at LMC
Check out this page for updates from the office and from congregation members!
Our 2019 Congregational Watchword is Acts 1:8 - “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Wow! What a blessed reminder this is for us as we do God’s work in the year ahead.
Lancaster Moravian Church is now a member congregation of the Parish Resource Center! This means that we are able to attend their workshops and events for free or at a discounted rate. We also have access to their library and their meeting rooms. If you are interested in any of their upcoming events be sure to note that you are part of a member congregation when enrolling.
“The Hope Shop” (from the June 2019 Pastor’s Letter)
An email came from a friend who was working with a man, we’ll call him Aaron, who she thought I should connect with. He was sleeping in his car. She wanted me to know that he might be coming my way. He called the office multiple times and left more messages than would be considered socially appropriate. Aaron said he was in the hospital, but he really wanted to connect with me. It was more than a dozen attempts before he walked into the office. We sat and talked for maybe 20 minutes and he shared his story with me. He had two children, both under the age of thirty. Within the past two years, both had been killed; his son, shot while away at college and his daughter killed by a drunk driver.
Aaron said that’s when his world fell apart and is how he ended up where he is now. I offered a listening ear as he shared details. I offered him a blessing bag with socks, toiletries, water, and snacks, and he gratefully accepted. I asked if he knew where the free community meals were. He said he couldn’t go because he didn’t have photo id. He was in the process of replacing it. I gave him the list and told him which ones didn’t require one. He also told me that he would be sleeping in his car until he could get into the shelter (which requires ID). We were finishing our conversation and he said, by the way, do you know where I could go to get grief counseling. I told him I would call him with the info once I had found it. I asked my favorite end of conversation question, “Are you a hug or handshake kind of person?” And, as is almost always the case, he gave me a big grateful hug. As he walked out the door he said, it was great to come by “The Hope Shop.”
“The Hope Shop.” Wow! Can you think of any name more fitting for a church? Twenty minutes of time and a bag of donated items translated into hope for Aaron, who has been struggling to find it elsewhere. And while, no one else has given us such a catchy name, his sentiments have been repeated by dozens of folks who I have talked to. So what does it cost to run this Hope Shop? Legitimately, part of my salary goes to pay to keep this Hope Shop running. Each of these interactions take between 10 minutes and 2 hours, and I average about 3-8 of them a week. Part of the rent money that allows us to have a safe space to hear stories and keep donated items. Donna prints off a couple dozen self-sufficiency guides and community meal lists every few months, and she assists in getting information and doing what I ask of her to help folks when I am otherwise occupied. Much of the $100 every month that is given to the Pastor’s Discretionary fund goes to “The Hope Shop” customers in the form of bus passes, meals, filled prescriptions, Photo ID replacement/renewals, and rental application fees. There are monetary costs associated with operating a “Hope Shop.”
Truthfully, as a congregation, you don’t get to see nearly as much of the income generated from “The Hope Shop,” as I do, except for what I share with you. Twenty minutes of my time, one 10-trip bus ticket ($15.50) and a blessing bag helped get A. to and from work for her first week at a new job until she got paid and was able to buy her own. Fifteen minutes with L. and $32.50 to get him a replacement photo ID allowed him to cash his paycheck to pay his rent and move to a different job through the temp agency.
Twenty minutes with R. revealed a fear of coming to church because of some trouble she got into years ago, and because it happened at the church, she believed God wouldn’t welcome her back. What a gift it was to talk to her about God’s forgiveness and grace, and to reassure her that she was being welcomed with open arms. I’m pretty sure that conversation offered as least as much hope as the blessing bag. For a million different reasons, shoppers of The Hope Shop either aren’t looking for or aren’t ready for a Sunday morning church service. But they are looking for Hope, and I’m so glad they found a place that seems to have a healthy supply of it.