Last month, Father Jacob reminded us all of a question that is central to our faith journey–to what is the Spirit calling each of us? Though the answer to that question might vary from pew to pew, some of the many generous hearts and hands that surround all of us here at St. Peter’s have provided one inspirational response. From June 4-11, our beautiful Parish Hall became a beacon of hope here in Center City Charlotte for a dozen women without a safe place to sleep due to an overflowing Salvation Army women’s shelter. For that full week, a robust team of volunteers numbering more than 40 transformed the Parish Hall each night into a place of radical love and welcome, truly. As the members of this Parish have done so many times before, St. Peter’s opened its doors, welcomed strangers into our midst, shared our bounty, and yielded to the call of the Spirit.
Our temporary shelter did not solve the intractable problems that many of our guests face every day. But for one inspired week, our temporary shelter did create a new community where none existed, between this Parish and the women we came to know. For one week, they did not have to worry that they would not have a safe place to spend the night. For one week, they were able to count on a warm bed, a great meal, and – most importantly–spending time with friends every single night. It was a blessing, indeed.
It is not possible to thank all those who contributed to the overflow shelter ministry here in this space. There are simply too many to name. In a very real sense, every member of this Parish made the shelter possible by routinely, eagerly, and joyously giving so much of themselves that the idea of not providing this shelter in the face of the great need seemed unthinkable.
So unthinkable, in fact, that we are doing it a second time.
During the week of July 16-23, the St. Peter’s Parish Hall will once again become a sanctuary in every sense of the word. We will invite 12 women in need of some generosity into our church home and into our hearts. They may arrive as strangers, but they will leave as friends. Of course, we will once again need your time and giving spirit, so watch this space for details about getting involved in meal planning, transportation, laundry, or overnight duty. As always, reach out to me if you have questions or suggestions.
I am so proud to be a part of this crowd that lives out its vision to effect good change in the world.
Bert J. Miano, Senior Warden