Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What St. Luke's Coeur d'Alene is all about

The Christian faith and the Gospel texts are not about publicly condemning gays, narrowly focusing only on abortion, or encouraging greed in the name of prosperity. They are about love, the love God has for all His children and our responsibility to reflect that love in our own relationships. This means we should worship God and revel in the joy and grace he gives us, and it also means we should reach out to one another. Sometimes that reaching out means taking a stand against oppressive governments and sometimes it means giving money or relief to victims of disease or hunger. But other times, it just means being a good neighbor, which is why I am very proud of my home church, St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. One of our more active members, Robert P., sent out the following message and pictures last night to an Outreach e-mail list:

It was a time that everything worked out right. When you think of Jubilee Ministry at St. Luke’s you would expect to find a helping hand at work. But sometimes results are not so evident even when hands stay busy. However, on Monday, August 11, a complex task was begun and completed the same day that kept a family together.

On Sunday, a young woman left Sandpoint desperate to find her family a place to live elsewhere. Her family would be without a place to live come Monday. Driving around Coeur d’Alene she spotted people coming and going at St. Luke’s when neighboring churches were idle. She was fortunate that our annual meeting kept us after the service or we too would have had no one around. Suzie found her way to Fr David who listened to how a new landlord had evicted her family because of HUD support for their rent. An extended fight to stay in the apartment failed and the family of 4 would be out the next day. Suzie told of efforts to locate a place to live that came up empty. She was quickly eliminating alternatives and needed immediate help. Suzie worked and attends North Idaho College. Her husband, 25, is in treatment for cancer of the liver.

Early Monday morning Bob R. and Robert P. drove to Sandpoint to bring household belongings to Coeur d’Alene. We found about 25 stuffed garbage bags on the sidewalk between a row of apartments. The family was standing near by. Their entire belongings easily fit into the pickup truck. Ready to leave, I asked Suzie where we were headed. She said that she did not know, but that she hoped her family could find somewhere to stay in Coeur d’Alene. While I drove Bob Runkle made phone calls. I could see the family following us in their beat up 4 door car on the scenic drive back. It was still only 10:00 AM. The sense of urgency was real that morning.

Through St. Luke’s continuing relationship with St Vincent De Paul the family was able to stay a few nights in one of the transitional housing units with a promise of a double unit later in the week that they could stay in for at least a year. An impromptu meeting was held outside that afternoon with the just-assigned case manager to get the critical paper work under way. Household items were stored at my shop.

Several powerful forces came together that day:
Suzie’s ability to quietly ask for help with carefully defined family needs.
St Luke’s being in position to help.
St Vincent De Paul’s vacancy and will to act to address an immediate need.

It was a good day,

A follow-up e-mail from the aforementioned Bob R. says that Suzie already has a good lead on a job at the local mall, and if the church could help provide some basic items like linens, that would be wonderful. Many thanks for her determination and prayers for her success!


Leonardo Ricardo said...

Yes, it's like participating in one miracle at a time...often one only needs to show up and use the resources at hand...of course, knowing where the resources ARE helps but that's where the willingness to ASK kicks the blessing of "being of service" into high gear.

Thank you for sharing this story and I'll keep them in my thoughts and prayers...such a blessing to NOT be trapped in depression and overwhelmed with negativity/inaction...reaching out is the key it seems to me...may God continue to great us the strength to do the things that we CAN do.

cany said...

What a lovely story! This is one of the ways that shows what it is really all about!

And yes, leonardo, "one miracle at a time"! A perfect description!

Cheered by morning right up!

Dan Porter said...

Thank you. This made my day. That is what all of our parishes are about when we are at our best.

Thanks again.

Ruth said...

I'm very happy that this family was able to find helping hearts at St. Vincent de Paul, but not everyone is so lucky. My daughter was just evicted from the shelter because her 30 days were up (although half a dozen other women have been there longer) and she has been unable to find a job. Do any Cd'A locals know anyone who'll hire a 6-month-pregnant (with twins!) woman who has a degree in computer networking?

Nathan Empsall said...

Ruth, I am sorry to hear about your daughter. Try asking around at the popular Coeur d'Alene blog Huckleberries Online. That's where all the locals hang out. Perhaps the "Wild Card" post is the best place to put your comment. You could also call St. Luke's (208 664-5533) or other area churches (Real Life Ministries in Post Falls is the biggest) to see if they know of any job resources.

Good luck, and prayers.

M.Scott said...

Thank you for sharing not just the story but the comments leading to it. I have been living in CDA for nearly 2 years and have been insearch of a church to attend regularly. I have visited several churches but have not found the perfect fit for myself & my family.
Your words describing St Luke's and your own convictions have - I think - pointed me in the right direction. I long for a church that does not use it's spiritual community to judge and condemn other human beings because of who they love, or choices they may make in thier lives. Each persons journey is beautiful because it's the one they are creating with the life they have been given. God alone understands the struggle and enlightenment that each soul encounters. As fellow human beings the greatest gift we can give to each other is our faith that every person is exactly the way they are intended to be. Celebrate each other, Help each other, Love each other.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

Nathan Empsall said...

Scott, please forgive me for taking so long (months and months) to reply to your comment.

St. Luke's is a wonderful place. It's not quite my cup of tea for worship or building aesthetics, but it is such a great and welcoming community, and that is what matters most. Have you had the chance to check it out yet?

Best of luck in your journey, I hope it has taken a positive turn in recent weeks!