Our mission states that as we are inspired by Christ, we are called to love and serve with all people to restore all of creation to God’s loving embrace. In order to follow this mission more closely, the church council of McMinnville Cooperative Ministries made a decision in June to not ask people to leave our property at night after we lock up our buildings.
Since we have not been asking people to leave at night, we have seen people decide to use this place as their place of stability. As the church, we have consciously called these folks our “everyday congregation” to reflect that these are human beings who have value. Folks found tents to keep the cold and wet a little at bay. We have allowed the tents to stay with boundaries. When people have been noisy or disruptive, we feel as though we have dealt with the bumps. When the folks who are in tents asked for more rules and understanding, we met and created rules around living together. We have seen growth in our new residents, finding ways to contribute back to the community and create community around this space.
We have been asked by city officials to remove the tents due to code and becoming a “chronic nuisance.” We feel, as church leaders, that we simply cannot ask our people to get off of the property, especially in the middle of December when there are no other solutions. Housing is scarce, or nonexistent. The weather is awful. Pastor Mark and I have been talking with church staff and leaders to get creative in offering places to have the conversation. We have also looked into different forms of temporary shelter. A petition was started to show support of the conversation.
What else can we do?
We ask that you pray. Pray often. Pray with us. McMinnville Cooperative Ministries will be hosting a prayer vigil on Monday December 22 at 7pm in our parking lot. We will lift up prayers for city officials, our homeless residents, and our community for a way forward.
Sign the petition. The petition doesn’t “do” anything. This petition shows that you want to be part of the conversation and that you support our body trying to make a difference. It also calls out the need to leave the tents until we find other solutions without fines or extra regulations. This means that you get to make your voice be heard.
If you want to donate money or items, we are always happy to help facilitate that donation. As we look ahead, we may need to use other resources. We are happy to hand out hygiene kits, socks, blankets, money for emergencies through our Community Compassion Fund program, etc.
We know that this isn’t the answer. We know that we don’t offer a long term solution. We don’t have the resources but we do have a passion to follow our mission to follow Jesus Christ. We know that we must do something about the state of homelessness in our area of the world. Do you have suggestions? We would love to hear! Let us know. Join us in finding more solutions for our homeless brothers and sisters.