Porous floors and changed lives

When James Warren heard that his column in the New York Times describing All Saints Episcopal Church on Chicago’s North Side and their ministry to the homeless might have motivated someone to vandalize the church, he felt terrible.

But when he visited the church, he found forgiveness and the ministry going forward. The Rev. Bonnie Perry reminded her congregation of the porous floorboards and “mud pit” in the basement. “That’s why I give 10 percent of my salary to this place each year,” she said. “The floorboards are porous, and we change people’s lives.”

Warren writes:

On Tuesday night — as nearly 200 people stood in line outside for a can of beef stew, a can of carrots, a bag of cereal, a can of green peas, a can of sliced pears, a quart of milk, a loaf of bread, a chicken or a frozen steak — higher forces seemed to take the drowning metaphor literally. It was pouring. The 160 or so others who went inside for dinner got clam chowder, mixed vegetables, French rolls, apple pie and, most of all, companionship.

Inside, industrial-strength drying machines dealt with the water the hose had left behind. Scanning the warping floorboards was Joe, a husky, bearded former Philadelphia trucker who lives on the streets and is a pantry regular. He said he would hurt the offender if he found him. “These are good people here” he said. “A lot of us depend on them.”

Under a rain-drenched tent, Tony Black, a graphic designer just back from Louisville after many years, was passing out bread and meats after reading the column. He was taken back at how much bigger the operation is now than it was 15 years ago.

Read the rest here.

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