If you’re like me, when you read this Ottawa Citizen headline, you think that this article must be a joke of some kind, right? There is just no way in the world that a church would close down it’s own food bank because it “attracted poor people?” But, sure enough, if your read on (see article below) you will find that is exactly what Unity Church did back in 2000. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article:
‘It’s attracting a lot of street people that make it uncomfortable,’ said Charlotte Prossen, Unity Truth Centre minister Thursday, ‘It’s creating social unrest in the church’
“‘A food bank is a social service and that is not who we are’
“Ms. Prossen said the program is being cancelled to focus on more church-specific activities.”
As I found myself getting really upset (and judgmental) about the comments made by this minister a humbling thought came across my mind.
Many “good” churches don’t have poor people that come to ANY services or programs, which makes it a lot less likely that there will be any “distractions.”
Which Is Worse?
Is it worse to have a food service program that you shut down for the exact reason it was created, or to never have a poor person come through your doors of the church in the first place?
There is no doubt that we (the Church) have a responsibility to “go” (outside the walls of our local churches) to meet the needs of the poor in our community, but shouldn’t the poor feel welcome in our churches as well? Listen to what the book of James says about how we treat the poor in our meeting spaces.
“Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and becomes judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?” James 2:2-6