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Kalamazoo homeless update

Timothy Kincaid

December 23rd, 2009

kzoo dinnerLast 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. (

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:

First Congregational Church of Christ
Third Christian Reformed
St. Luke\’s Episcopal Church
First Presbyterian Church
First United Methodist Church

Those who left are:

Centerpoint Church
Word for Life Church of God
Agape Christian Church

Those joining are:

People\’s Church, Unitarian Universalist
United Campus Ministry/Kalamazoo
Disciples Christian Church
Chapel Hill United Methodist Church



December 23rd, 2009 | LINK

Thanks for the update, Timothy.

Matt Algren
December 23rd, 2009 | LINK

I’m happy to point out that Chapel Hill United Methodist is a Reconciling Congregation, as is Kalamazoo First United Methodist. (Reconciling Ministries is the United Methodist LGBT-affirming group.)

This is the first time in a while I’ve had reason to be proud of my denomination!

December 23rd, 2009 | LINK

What we are seeing here is further evidence of the rift between evangelical and mainline Protestant churches. Note that all the new additions belonged to mainline denominations. The churches that left were disassociating themselves from the mainline.

Jonathan Justice
December 23rd, 2009 | LINK

While this is laugh out loud funny in so many ways, it is so much to the point that so many of the congregations that are moving to pick up the slack have already gotten their acts together with regard to LGBT people. One might suggest that hospitality has engendered hospitality.

December 23rd, 2009 | LINK

The less charity they do, the more obvious it is that they should be taxed, just like any other group that takes donations and uses them primarily for political purposes.

David C.
December 23rd, 2009 | LINK

A truly Christian spirit is at work here. Those that judge and are incapable of truly embracing the teachings of Jesus are leaving the fold of the truly graceful, virtuous, and charitable. Those that truly understand the message of love are joining together to help those in need as Jesus would have it be. A lesson here for all: mark it well.

Paul in Canada
December 24th, 2009 | LINK

It is time to take on the battle against evangelical right-wing ‘churches’! They have no place in public discourse and need to be seen as the cause of both anti-gay and anti-peace actions within our communities. Any institution that disrupts civil rights and civil peace must be dismantled.

Timothy Kincaid
December 24th, 2009 | LINK

One might suggest that hospitality has engendered hospitality.

Indeed one might

Timothy Kincaid
December 24th, 2009 | LINK


I’m glad you don’t vote in my country.

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