At the shared meal last Saturday at the Lutheran Church of God’s Love in Newtown, PA for the homeless and those in need, the pastor and two other hosts sat at our table to get to know us and were open to our concerns. They also socialized with the other guests. We were warmly welcomed and made to feel at home.
There are other churches that hosts the meals who also warmly welcome and socialize with their guests, such as the Second Baptist Church of Bristol, Harriman UMC, Restoration Church, Calvary Baptist, Saint Marks AME in Newtown, and Calvary Full Gospel.
There are other churches, however, that at some point became a bit callous towards the homeless and those in need. The Levittown Salvation Army Community Center is one of them. Most recently, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the guests were herded in and out like cattle! The guests had to wait in a long line, like the soup line people had to wait in during the Great Depression in the cold to get into the meal. Finally, a few minutes after the six pm. set opening, guests were herded in. It took a while, as the host took people’s names. A host that one former Salvation Army volunteer nicknamed “Queen Latifah” escorted the party I was in to assigned seats, as she did others.
It took some time for most guests to sit down and eat. I must have been after 6:30 when they could start! Yet, about 7 p.m., AHTN rounded the herd up to get in the bus. The queen parroted the order that it was time to go, quite augustly and vocally. You would think that AHTN would give the homeless riders more time to enjoy their meal!
After experiencing abrupt rudeness and condescension repeatedly from the queen years ago, I stopped going for quite some time. I heard there was new leadership and that maybe the new leaders would put a leash on the queen, a member of a spurious aristocracy. As evidenced at the Thanksgiving meal, the status quo is pretty much still in place. I don’t plan to go back to the meals.
The Levittown Church of God is another church that does not treat their guest right. Although we who come to the free shared homeless and needy meals appreciate being fed, some of us expressed outrage with the attitude of the host, namely the pastor, at a meal there back in February, 2019. Some people, including myself, have decided not to go back there.
We he opened, he bragged that the church itself provided the meal. “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” Matthew 6:2.
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2
The host started taking up table cloths, chairs, and even tables not much past 6:30 p.m., as people were still eating. The meal is scheduled to run from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. Guests were not let in until 6:05. One of the guests asked if the meal was supposed to end at 6:30 p.m. “Don’t you see, everyone is leaving”, the pastor snapped. Shortly thereafter, as I sat, wiping my mouth with a napkin, the pastor, standing opposite me said something like “hope you had a good meal; we’re breaking it down…”. As I finished wiping my mouth, he flipped the table, abruptly folding it up, almost dropping it on my lap!
As we moseyed towards the door, some of the hosts subtly pushed us out, as if we were cattle! Movin’ movin’ movin’. Keep them doggies movin’. Keep them doggies movin’, rawhide… Move ‘em out!
Except for graciously and generously offering the guests food, the hosts did not interact with their guests as they have in the past. In the past, the pastor and other hosts have reached out to others. On one occasion long ago I talked with the pastor about a problem, which was later resolved.
Most of the churches that host the shared meals are gracious with their guests and socialize with them. The shared meals are an important ministry, where hosts can reach out to show Jesus to their guests and help people experiencing problems.
In my book, the shared meals are one thing I write about. https://www.amazon.com/There-Are-Homeless-Buck-County/dp/172865209X/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=there%20are%20homeless%20in%20bucks%20county&qid=1555953133&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&fbclid=IwAR2x3SKmaynu1NpSSlpiXlxRhJ_Rd0csXzhmoCc5UHDifcHVRLbAbpmVZok
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” -2 Corinthians 5:20