The images coming out of Houston in the wake of hurricane Harvey are frightening.
As we sat outside in the sun, looking over the lush vegetable garden at the church groaning with squash, beans, eggplant, and tomatoes, these pictures from Houston seemed surreal. We wanted to help. Of course the first thing we did was post a link for Episcopal Relief and Development so people could donate. This is a trusted organization of the Episcopal Church with a glowing track record and we are happy to support it, but God was calling us to something beyond a monetary donation.
We wanted to connect with a church like St. Mark's and St. John's. So we started looking for an inner city church that is helping the poor and we stumbled onto the website for the Lord of the Streets.
We contacted the priest and he immediately replied with the following:
As you can imagine, the needs in greater Houston are enormous. Donations of $ are always appropriate in times like these, and LOTS will be addressing the emergency needs of our homeless neighbors (we have around 200 on average who join us for Sun worship and breakfast, and average around 400 people per week who receive spiritual or physical or emotional/relational assistance here at LOTS). Any gift of $ will be gratefully received and distributed.
We also have need for clothing and hygiene items. The most common needs at times like this for our homeless neighbors, when they've suffered the loss of what relatively few possessions they had through rising flood waters, are
men's & women's new or slightly used jeans (not distressed, with rips/holes)
men's & women's new underwear
hygiene items: small deodorant, toothpaste, individually wrapped/packaged toothbrushes, etc.
For whatever you can do to help, Julie, we are most grateful. And if you cannot give these kinds of gifts, for your prayers for us and our neighbors and our City, we are most grateful.
Blessings to and through you and the parish!
Vicar, Lord of the Streets
So we sent out a request and this past Sunday, we began to accumulate items for a shipment.
As Cindy was preaching, she talked about creating relationships and how we wanted to be in relationship with a ministry in Houston working to serve the most vulnerable population when a young woman in the congregation shouted out that she was here from Houston! Camille was staying in Rochester while she visited Hobart William Smith with her mother and they belong to St. Mark's Houston. And yes, you know what is coming - St. Mark's is in partnership with Lord of the Streets! Imagine their surprise to see that the parish they had picked in Rochester to attend Sunday Worship was in the process of collecting items to send to Houston. In addition to jeans, the congregation forwarded checks totaling $585 to Lord of the Streets today.
Why did they pick SMSJ? Because they are members of St. Mark's and they also volunteer at St. John's and when St. Mark's and St. John's name came up, they knew they would be at the right place. They were!
Coincidence or grace? Grace, of course!