Opinion: How does your church treat the homeless in Denver? | David Heitz
An editor of the Daily Pilot in Newport Beach, California once told me that homeless people are angels sent by God to test us all.
He didn’t like the angle I took on a homeless story in a city park. Swanky Newport Beach didn’t like homeless people in its parks.
I remember one of my first stories as a new reporter in California. A local church made parishioners sleep in the church basement as if they were homeless. The pastor thought it would be good for parishioners to find out how the less fortunate live.
Of course, homeless people don’t sleep in church basements. Some do. Fortunate. But churches never leave basement doors unlocked for the homeless. You might think that, by the way, some people are advocating for faith groups to take care of homeless people on their own.
Jesus may have been homeless, but that doesn’t change the way some worshipers look down on the homeless. I discovered during the homelessness that most of the church people who fed us were beautiful. But not all worshipers feel obligated to help the homeless.
“We don’t have any homeless people here”
I remember a church I used to attend that welcomed homeless people early in the morning on weekdays for coffee and breakfast. This church no longer has support for the homeless.
I went to church one Sunday, not as a homeless person, but just as someone who goes to church on a Sunday. I couldn’t get anyone to talk to me and I felt uncomfortable.
The church was giving out gift baskets on a Sunday. I asked, “Is this for the homeless?” And the lady behind the table said, “These are for new members. We don’t have any homeless people here.
Well, no, not on a Sunday morning apparently.
I remember trying to stay warm at the Tivoli on the Auraria campus several winter mornings. There was a church that rented space there. Parishioners used to glare at me when they started preparing their hall for church. After the church arrived, stories about “homelessness in Auraria” began to appear in all Denver media outlets. It seemed pretty obvious to me that it came from this church.
‘Are you homeless? Do you want to watch my car?
I remember sitting at McDonald’s next to the Cathedral Basilica one morning. Someone had put $20 in an online tip jar I had on my website. So for once I had money for breakfast.
A man came up to me and said, “Are you homeless? I was appalled. I said, “Well, yes.” He then offered me $5 to watch over his illegally parked car while he sat in church. I refused. He had words for me that I didn’t think Christians used.
What did he think I was going to do when a tow truck stopped? Lying in front? Or run around the church yelling, “Hey man with the red Honda, your car’s towed.” No, I didn’t want his $5.
For the record, Cathedral Basilica treated homeless people in general quite well. I also went there for coffee.
I like to think that most people who go to church feel empathy for people who are homeless. Sometimes, however, it seems like the churches are all about money. You know, dress up in Sunday clothes?
If someone shows up at your church on a Sunday and they’re not having their “best Sunday” but they seem homeless, I hope you’ll reach out and say, “Peace be with you. “. It’s always been my favorite part of the church and it’s all I was looking for the day I was told, “We don’t have any homeless people here.