Church closes food bank because it attracts poor people.

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

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  • bsinkop

    Interesting article, but the headline is a bit distorted to make it sound a lot worse than it is. The key paragraph in the article is this one: “Most clients of food banks have not yet come to a sense of personal responsibility in life. They are still in denial, blame or seeing the world as owing them.” Sounds like the church discovered that meeting peoples physical needs isn’t the same as meeting people’s spiritual need, which is the primary function of the church. They thought that meeting people’s physical need would open doors to meeting their spiritual needs, but they discovered it doesn’t work that way. Jesus also said man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, demonstrating that our real need is our spiritual hunger not our physical hunger. Often is it our spiritual depravity that leads to our physical depravity. Programs to feed and care for the poor are wonderful, but they must never take away from the role of the church to care for people’s spiritual needs.

    I think about the time Jesus fed the crowd then rebuked those who followed him only because they had eaten and had their fill. The only reason they came back was to get another free meal. He told them not to work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life John 6:27. Jesus never set up or served in a soup kitchen, he never volunteered in a homeless shelter. There is a lot of emphasis in the church today about taking care of the poor as if that was Jesus’ primary ministry. But his primary ministry was to preach, to heal and to make disciples. I find it interesting that those who appeal to us to be the “hands and feet” of Jesus emphasize feeding the poor. Yet Jesus spent far more time healing the sick than he did feeding the poor. Why not make that the focus? I’m not trying to take away from the very great ministries that feed the poor. But many of them aren’t solving peoples problems or liberating them from their bondage. Sometimes they are just perpetuating the cycle. And there is no harm in a church evaluating whether a particular program is producing the kind of result they are looking for. I’m quite sure if Jesus’ ministry had resulted people lining up for food he would have packed up and moved on. I even remember a story about a time when Jesus healed so many people that the next morning when he woke up everyone was looking for him. Jesus told his disciples ““Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Mark 1:38

  • FactChecker

    You might want to do a little research to find out the real reasons behind this 2000 event. Research is always a good thing to do before making moral judgements. You might start with http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2000/02/21/church.html

    Another consideration is that the supposed clip from the Ottawa Citizen
    is likely itself a hoax, as it is not available from the Citizen’s
    archives.

  • http://twitter.com/Lytingale Lois Lyte Henrickson

    The headline is extremely distorted! I would assume they closed it because of the difficulties of running a food bank. It sounds like that church was over-zealous in starting it, then got tired when too many realities set in. You gotta give them credit for starting it in the first place, and for probably bringing some attention to the need.
    I can just imagine the all-consuming nature of trying to run a food bank operation. And how might you feel about coming to church and having people
    sleeping on the sidewalk in front of it? And panhandling you as you left the service?

    So, I can relate to the other side of the coin… and see the need for
    balance….

    We don’t run a food pantry or a clothes closet at our church because
    of the huge amount of physical space it would require, plus the amount
    of volunteers it would need. Instead we participate with (and donate to) the organizations who do that really well (probably better than we could).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allen-Grey/100001087875148 Allen Grey

    It is worse than it is. Again, more villainising the poor. I can pull up verses that say the opposite. You’ll call me the devil or seduced by him. Same old excuses. Just say you can’t handle it. You don’t know how to help. Don’t make excuses. Sure some of those poor have issues. But I understand, you need to judge. To feel like you are doing God’s work by being this way. You need people to look down on to make you feel better for your character flaws in life. Its all excuses what you wrote. Nothing more.

    If you have to make excuses then why bother. No one said you had to do anything. And yet, you post here. Even the Bible is in the middle of intense debates among Christians. We have enough people preaching “Christian”. What makes you any different from all the noise?

    You know stuff and yet you know nothing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allen-Grey/100001087875148 Allen Grey

    Didn’t find it. So are there “real” reasons? lol

  • KB_Velvet

    Um……isn’t
    that what Food Banks are for? Providing food to poor people that don’t
    have enough to put food on their own table? Giving a helping hand to the
    poor…..and being charitable…..isn’t that what churches are supposed
    to do? WTH does this church think is it’s purpose…..if not to help
    those in need?

  • Ben Shigure Ho

    http://unityofwinnipeg.com/?page_id=2

    I don’t believe we should be applying Christian principles to this church because they are not a Christian church. Please see the link above. They are a new age “church”.

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