One of our local friends and co-collaborators in our work in the community, King of King's Lutheran Church on Theissen, needs our voices!
(For the direct action.... download the doc at the end of this article. For background reading.... read on!)
King of Kings Lutheran Church has been in discernment about the issue of homelessness in our community for almost three years, spurred by the work of their Social Justice Committee. Affordable housing and homelessness came up in a listening season in 2016 as the issue of greatest concern among our faith community members. Around that same time, folks from King of Kings joined other Clackamas County churches and organizations that belong to the Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good (MACG... of which Storyline is now a member too!) with similar interest in the issue to form the MACG Clackamas Housing Team. The Housing Team started doing research on the issue in Clackamas County, meeting with leaders (County Commissioners, Health Housing and Human Services, Community Service Centers) to learn more about the issue of affordable housing, homelessness, and its relationship to the health and well-being of our neighbor. Leaders in Clackamas County affirmed their explorations, and also affirmed that partnerships with non-profits and faith communities were an important means of addressing the shortage of emergency housing.
The Housing Team, including members from other faith institutions, visited other places in Oregon where faith communities were creatively working to reduce the number of people without shelter in their communities. The team found some great models for overnight shelters (Cars, Conestogas, and Tiny Houses) in Springfield and Eugene in Lane County.
Along the way, they met interested partners at Providence Health’s “Better Outcome’s Through Bridges” (or B.O.B.) Program who were working to addresses housing as a health issue. Providence offered to help look at creative models to support vulnerable populations and offered to provide expertise in medical case management for an overnight shelter program.
In the fall of 2018, KOK began a discernment process to see if they wanted to pilot a
form of Safe Overnight Shelter (SOS) on their property. After a multi-month process
within the congregation, KOK decided to apply for a conditional use permit with
Clackamas County to allow up to three cars to remain overnight on their property. Car camping residents would be referred through the county’s Coordinated Housing Access (C.H.A.), would undergo a background check, and would need to follow the guidelines set forth by the congregation for temporary residency.
Here's where YOU come in! King of King's is in the community information feedback part of the conditional use permit process. They need US (Storyline folx) to help come alongside them as a contributing voice to Clackamas County's feedback collection.
In communities all over Oregon, homelessness is deemed to be one of the most pressing issues of our time. King of King's feels called to find a way that their community of faith can help our neighbor, especially the most vulnerable. Though they are a relatively small congregation, they have a parking lot and are located within a reasonable distance to health care (Providence Milwaukie) and other services. In the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus doesn’t just fix the problem of a hungry multitude for the disciples. He begins the process by saying, “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:37). King of King's feels called to not just talk about the problem of homelessness, but contribute, albeit in a small way, to the solution. By piloting an overnight shelter program, a handful of folks will have a safe place to be each night without having to worry about being asked to move along. A handful of folks will have a location where medical case managers and sustainability case managers will be able to find them to help them find more permanent housing. A handful of folks will have a chance to catch their breath. AND.... they may even blaze a trail for other communities of faith and organizations to join their efforts, putting their people and their parking lots to good use as well.
HERE'S THE ACTION:
At Storyline, we don't have a building of our own, but we do have voices to lend in support of our colleagues and community members who are doing the work of reconciliation and justice. To that end, please take some time in the next week or two to send letters of support to The Board of County Commissioners, especially if you are a resident of unincorporated Milwaukie or the Oak Grove/Oak Lodge Neighborhood. Below is a form letter you can download and make your own.
AND.... if you're interested in learning more about housing justice and how Storyline is already putting itself in to this conversation in Clackamas County, email Sara and tell her where your gifts and interests lie.
No matter the size of your household, many or one... consider taking time on Mother's Day to read the Litany below, using as many voices as are able to read. Light a candle and/or lift a glass to all the mothers. Following the litany, there are two activities: one for households with young children, one for adult households.
A Litany for Mothers
One: Mothers come in many different forms, and today we celebrate them all!
Many: Thank God for Mothers!
One: Everyone here is either a son or a daughter.
Many: Thank God for my mother!
One: For those women who have joined God in Heaven and whom we miss dearly here on earth.
Many: Thank God for the mothers of the past.
One: For every woman who is working day and night to raise her children right now.
Many: Thank you God for the mothers of today.
One: For all the women who are expecting but aren’t quite mothers yet.
Many: Thank you God for the soon-to-be mothers.
One: For the women who took in others’ children through adoption or foster care.
Many: Thank God for the mothers with hearts so big.
One: For those women who have lost a child to death and must carry on.
Many: Thank God for the mothers who are so strong.
One: For all the women who have desperately wanted to have children of their own, but chose instead to mother everyone else.
Many: Thank God for the mothers in spirit.
ALL: We thank you, Lord, for the women who have influenced our lives in so many ways. We pray that we will honor them in everything we do. Amen.
- Rev. Bonnie McCubbin, Good Shepherd UMC, Baltimore
A Blessing for Households with Children
- heart stickers
- your mom
- a sheet of paper
Time: 15 minutes
Gather around together. It's preferable if someone who is not the mother helps lead this activity. :) Light a candle and read the litany on the first page together. Then, have the mother in your house sit in a special place.
Using the sheet of paper, draw a "paper doll" outline and then list on the side or all around the paper doll the names of all the women in your household's lives who are mothers or who have a mothering influence.
Using the heart stickers, take turns listing qualities about each of those women, especially including your mom who is present, that you love and are grateful for. As you list those special qualities, place a heart sticker on the paper doll for the moms who aren't present (label the quality if you want to be extra decorative) and place the heart sticker on your actual mom for the qualities of hers you are thankful for.
As you talk about the women whose names are on your paper doll, help you children to think about mothering in some of the ways that are listed in the litany. Be sure to ask your mom who her mothering influences are and what qualities she is grateful for as well!
A Blessing for Adult Households
- a vessel (cup, bowl, mug, etc.)
- small strips of paper (just larger than fortune cookie fortunes)
- a candle
Time: 10- 15 minutes
Gather the supplies and the people with whom you wish to hold space for this blessing. Light a candle and together, read the litany on the first pages. As you read, feel free to pause between petitions and name the women who come to mind at each petition.
Consider the vessel before you. For mothers who have lifted us up and been sources of light in our lives, a vessel is an appropriate image for the emotional and physical work that they give their lives to. For mothers with whom our relationships have been hard, a vessel can be an image that helps us remember we are not alone in carrying those hard feelings. For the way that our Creator mothers us and we in turn pour that out onto others, a vessel represents the space inside of me that I carve out to care for those around me.
On the scraps of paper, write the names of women who have been mothering influences in you life, write their best qualities and gifts to you and the world, write your deepest hopes for mothering relationships. Carefully fold each slip of paper and place it in the vessel.
If you have a mother present with you in your house, read the blessing below to her. If not, read the blessing to your vessel. If its appropriate, close with a celebratory toast to the mothers in your midst.
For a Mother
your voice learning to soothe
Your new child
Was the first home-sound
We heard before we could see.
Your young eyes
Gazing on us
Was the first mirror
Where we glimpsed
What to be seen
Your nearness tilled the air,
An umbilical garden for all the seeds
Of thought that stirred in our infant hearts.
You nurtured and fostered this space
To root all our quietly gathering intensity
That could grow nowhere else.
Formed from the depths beneath your heart,
You know us from the inside out.
No deeds or seas or others
Could ever erase that.
- John O’ Donohue
As a faith community, we have been called to come under and around the needs of our underserved local families in our school community. This coming Wednesday, our teachers and educators will be raising their voices for those very kiddos. Join us as we walk among them.
Know before you go.
Here are a couple of resources to bring you up to speed on the current crisis in Oregon.
There are two options for showing up in person that day:
1) Take it to the MAX - 7am-9am - end of the Orange Line station at Park and 99E. Meet up with Storyline leaders and bring thank-you cards for the educators standing up for their students. Wear RED and bring a sign in support of teachers and educators. North Clackamas District teachers will be actively attempting to educate commuters that morning on the current crisis in Oregon.
2) Downtown Rally and March - 11am-2pm - Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Meet up with Storyline leaders downtown at the rally. Wear RED. Bring a sign in support of educators and public education. Kids are definitely welcome. Make sure you have Megan J (number here) or Sara's (503-367-7439) cell numbers to meet up with us in the crowd.
OR... if you can't make it in person. Please write your legislator. (Even if you can make it, write them! Postcards are also a great opportunity for kids to participate in sharing their public voice.
Here's an example for an email or postcard from an adult:
Dear (Rep or Senator) ________,
As a person of faith and a resident of the state of Oregon, I am writing to encourage you to fully fund public education in our state. I'm proud to be an Oregonian, but I'm currently not proud of the state of our classrooms. Our students deserve teachers who are compensated justly and given the opportunity to invest in retirement funding that works. Our students deserve classroom sizes, supplies and supports that lead to better learning outcomes. Cutting funding or accepting the current crisis as status quo is robbing the future of our state rather than tackling the complex problem we are faced with head on.
I believe in investing our money in future generations. Please support Oregon schools, teachers and students.
Postcards from kids can be simple. Have them think about what they love about school and why their teacher is important to them. Writing and drawing are absolutely acceptable and powerful ways of sharing our hopes for Oregon with our legislators. Make sure to sign your child's name and age clearly.