December 23rd, 2009
Last week we informed you of three churches in Kalamazoo who chose to stop participating in an ecumenical effort to care for the homeless due to other participating churches having supported non-discrimination against gay people.
In the spirit of Christmas, the three churches who are disassociating with Martha’s Table delayed their exodus until after the annual Christmas feast, hosted by the United Methodist Church in Edison and First Congregational United Church of Christ in downtown. (Mlive.com)
The two locations combined drew more than 2,000 people.
Joanie Burke, a coordinator of the event at Stockbridge Avenue United Methodist Church, said it is true that more people than ever are in need of a warm meal and new clothes.
There is, however, a feel-good spin to the story.
“The need may be unprecedented, but the upbeat is the amount of donations for this event has increased amazingly … we have so many new toys that were donated, it looks like Santa\’s workshop around here,” Burke said.
Burke said more than 150 people volunteered at each location to help serve meals, clear tables, oversee the distribution of clothes and toys “and basically direct traffic through our narrow halls.”
Burke said the meal and distribution of clothes, blankets and toys draws parishioners from more than 15 churches in Southwest Michigan.
While it is sad that three churches have chosen to value their anti-gay animus over their charitable instinct, the good news is that others are stepping in to fill the gap. (WWMT)
The four new members of Martha\’s Table, Laney said, are: People\’s Church, Unitarian Universalist, in Oshtemo Township; United Campus Ministry/Kalamazoo, a nondenominational service-learning program for higher-education students; Disciples Christian Church, on Winchell Avenue; and Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, on Oakland Drive.
“And several others are leaning toward coming aboard,” said the Rev. Matt Laney, of First Congregational United Church of Christ, whose support of civil rights for gay and transgender people prompted Centerpoint Church, Word for Life Church of God and Agape Christian Church to leave Martha\’s Table.
There is no word yet on whether the three disassociating churches plan to start their own charitable effort of if they are so strongly opposed to gay people being able to work and have housing that they’ve given up entirely on caring for the needy.
The churches who stayed in Martha’s Table are:
Those who left are:
Those joining are:
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Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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