Guide – Working Draft
Sabbath to End Homelessness
Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness
We are so excited for the 4th Annual Sabbath to End Homelessness (STEH)! The Sabbath will be observed during the week of Friday, November 9th-Sunday, November 18th. We ask that your congregation determine at a specific date within that week and begin to plan your observance of the STEH.
The first Sabbath to End Homelessness (STEH) was held in November 2009, when DCEH was little more than a year old. Numerous DCEH-member congregations participated, and Interfaith Team members brainstormed how their congregations could mark this event. DCEH consolidated a list of ideas and distributed the list to team members to help them organize activities within their own congregations. The event was considered a success, and it was decided the event should occur again in 2010, 2011, and now 2012.
Homelessness cannot be eliminated in one week, but it is a way to harness energy, gather people, and keep the movement growing!
Purpose of this Guide
With the experience of the last three years to draw on, DCEH has prepared this more detailed guide that can help congregations shape their 2012 STEH efforts. This is a tool and list of resources to help you prepare plans and engage other members of your faith community in your planning. In evaluations collected after the 2009 event, one word to the wise was clear: “the advance work and planning makes a huge difference in the outcome.” We hope this helps get your planning under way for 2012.
No Set Theme for Sabbath for Ending Homelessness
Over the last three years, we have had a theme that anchors the Sabbath. This year, we made the decision as an Interfaith Team to have no main theme used across congregations based on that the Sabbath to End Homelessness is used as a title.
What is Sabbath to End Homelessness (STEH), and what are its goals?
Sabbath to End Homelessness (STEH) is an initiative of the member congregations of Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness. It is an opportunity for member congregations to set aside time in November to educate members about homelessness issues, how their faith speaks to the issue, and what can be done.
Ideally member congregations will try to reach members through a variety of means: collaboration with other groups within the congregation, newsletters, emails, posters, forums, sermons, skits and inclusion of the issue in worship services. Individuals learn differently and offering the same message in a variety of ways is likely to increase the likelihood of success.
In 2012, the collective goals of STEH are to
- Continue to heightening awareness of DCEH,
- Build base (community) around the issue of homelessness, giving the sense of each congregation member as part of this collaboration; and
- Educate and invite people to take action
- Why it’s important to end homelessness, what homelessness looks like currently
- What progress has been made and this is long term work
- Where we go from here/opportunities ahead/how to be involved for seeking justice
Congregations are asked to report back to DCEH on the results of their efforts, evaluating success within the perspective of each particular congregation. Each congregation may want to determine in advance how it will we measure the success of its efforts: What will determine success? What measurable objectives can it set?
Some examples of measureable objectives for your congregations are:
- Each congregation has ___ educational opportunities for adults, youth, and kids; to heighten the awareness and educate congregations.
- Acknowledges the Sabbath in worship through sermon, prayers, liturgy, and announcements (heighten awareness and building the base).
- Provide further steps for continued involvement, including participation in Legislative and City processes (Building the base)
- Recruit ___ of advocates, update and engage Advocates with the advocacy card, Take Five Table, through bulletin/newsletter announcements. Update list of advocates.
- Provide activities on the day of the Sabbath observance to engage members (Educate and Invite People to Action).
Worship, Liturgical and Faith/Denomination-Specific Ideas
The STEH team has reviewed existing materials and provided sample liturgical and denominational ideas for DCEH Interfaith team members to draw on as they plan their STEH 2012. Additional worship ideas are included at the end of the document as Appendix A.
Use or Adapt Prayers, Liturgy, etc.
Sermon Topics and Sacred Texts
- JEWISH, Passages from the Torah or Talmud
Proverbs 31: 8-9
Speak up for [those unable to speak], for the rights of all the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and needy.
And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the result of righteousness shall be quietness and confidence forever.
God hears the cry of the destitute homeless
God hears, sees, and knows human suffering, especially that caused economic exploitation. God’s will is for slavery and oppression to end and for Creation’s gifts to be shared by all.
Which translates to: “We sent aforetime our apostles with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that they may stand forth in justice.”
Which translates to: “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to justice, and let not the hatred of others to you make swerve to wrong and depart from Justice. Be just: that is next to piety; and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
Ruth 1, 4 – Story of two homeless women. How does this story of Ruth and Naomi relate to homelessness and give us insight?
Mark 1:29-34; 2:1-12 – two stories that involve houses. What are our housing needs? What does it look like to have them met? What would it take? What happens when we don’t have a house? Who needs a house?
Mark 12: 38-44 (November 11th Text) – Helping those in need, doing something constructive with all of our resources, working for justice, not just our money, might be a better way to embody this text than simply filling our a donation card.
Mark 13:1-8 (November 18th Text) – Amassing physical items of this world is not what is important, but the importance
Invite Guest Speakers/Preachers
See Speakers under Educational Forums
Have a Special Time with Children
- Read one of the children’s books
- Relate Sacred text with theme
- Ask the children what they think of when they think of home
Bulletin Inserts and Index Cards
- Provide a 3×5 index card to congregants in the bulletin, at the door into worship, etc. Ask congregants during
Select Songs that focus on Justice and answering a call to protect people who are homeless/vulnerable.
Recognize programs that address homelessness within your congregation/people who work in social services/people speaking up in our political process/other
Use bulletin covers that emphasize the STEH, homelessness, justice, or related content
Education is key to engaging people in ending homelessness. Congregations are advised to extend STEH efforts beyond one specific Sabbath. There may, for example, be opportunities to hold a number of activities leading up to or beyond the Sabbath. Encourage as many people as possible in your congregation to get involved in planning or attending one of the events.
The committee encourages congregations to plan activities that reflect that there are two important parts to social service: advocacy and direct service. We need them both.
Below, ideas from 2009 have been supplemented with ideas from subsequent years
- Plymouth Neighborhood Foundation – Michael Dahl, Allison Johnson, Lee Blons
- YouthLink – Frances Roen, Heather Huseby
- Steve Carlson, Spectrum Homeless Project, 612-752-8208, speaks on the history of homelessness. Why are things the way they are now?
- Currie Avenue Partnership. Why has it been successful? Why have businesses been willing to get involved? What does it mean to business?
- Avenues for Homeless Youth – Minneapolis Host Home Program, Deena McKinney, Deb Loon
- Clients/People experiencing homelessness from: Youthlink, Dignity Center, Lutheran Social Service, St. Mark’s, The Basilica of Saint Mary, Central Lutheran, etc.
- Legislators/Public Officials who are housing/poverty advocates – Sen. John Marty, Rep. Karen Clark, Rep. Morrie Lanning, Rep. Larry Howes, Mayor RT Rybak, Commissioner Gail Dorfman.
- Heading Home Hennepin – Cathy ten Broeke,
- Consultant to the State of MN on Youth Homelessness – Beth Holger-Ambrose, Beth.Holger-Ambrose@state.mn.us. Phone 651-431-3823.
- Simpson Housing Services – Christina Giese
- St. Stephen’s Human Services (and Outreach) – Mikkel Beckman, Monica Nilsson, etc.
- Community Emergency Services – Karen DeClouet
- Lutheran Social Service – Changing Lives Center
- Minneapolis Public Schools Homeless Liaison Program – Zib Hinz
- Our Savior’s Shelter- Colleen O’Connor Toberman
- Simpson Housing Services – Brian Bozeman, Steve Horsfield
- Youth Moving Forward – Kirsten Anderson-Stembridge
- Ascension Place – Julia Welle Aires
- Education on financial benefits for ending homelessness, partnering with police, etc.
- Youth from congregations who participated in Night on the Street w/ PCNF
- Art exhibit: Homelessness is My Address, Not my Name, contact St. Stephen’s Human Services
- Julia Dinsmore, homeless poet
Educational Resources provide a reading/viewing list, create a book group, use during adult, youth, or children’s education:
- Books for adults:
- Disrupting Homelessness: An Alternative Christian Approach, by Laura Stivers. Disrupting Homelessness unmasks the futile assumptions of our present approaches to homelessness and suggests ways in which Christians and Christian communities can create a prophetic social movement to end poverty and homelessness.
- Think and Act Anew: How Poverty in America Affects Us All and What We Can Do About It by Fr. Larry Snyder
Fr. Larry is President of Catholic Charities USA and oversees its work to reduce poverty in America. This small book provides an opportunity to think and act anew in dealing with the thousand-of-years-old problem of entrenched poverty. The faces of the poor are described through stories of those who have sought Catholic Charities services. Fr. Snyder draws on Catholic social teaching that firmly establishes the dignity of the human being, and the connection between charity and justice as the core principles for engaging our faith.
- Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich. A journalist looks for work as a cleaner or waitress in various American cities, and lives off her wages.
- The Child Poverty and Inequality: Securing a Better Future for America’s Children, by Duncan Lindsey. A history of economic and family policy from the Great Depression and the development of Social Security, followed by several viable universal income security policies for vulnerable children and families that aim not just to reduce child poverty, but also to give all children meaningful economic opportunity.
- Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America, by Ronald J. Sider. A review of the socioeconomic data available on the extent and impact of poverty in America from both a liberal and a conservative perspective. Believing that, faithfully interpreted and lived, the Scriptures can provide the vision and motivation needed to reduce poverty dramatically; he spells out a set of proposals for a social policy that works toward that goal.
- American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare, by Jason DeParle. Tracing the lives of three women and their children as legislative changes are pushed through Washington and the state of Wisconsin.
- A Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Ruby Payne. People in poverty face challenges from both obvious and hidden sources. Ruby Payne provides practical, real-world support and guidance to relating with people from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Ending Poverty in America: How to Restore the American Dream, by John Edwards, Marion Crain, and Arne L. Kalleberg. Ending Poverty in America explains why poverty is growing and outline concrete steps that can be taken now to start turning the tide.
- The Poverty and Justice Bible. Almost every page of the Bible speaks of God’s heart for the poor. Using the clear Contemporary English Version (CEV) text, The Poverty and Justice Bible highlights more than 2,000 verses that spell out God’s attitude to poverty and justice.
- Poverty in America: A Handbook, by John Iceland. John Iceland provides a comprehensive picture of poverty in America, how it has changed over time, as well as how public policies have grappled with poverty as a political issue and an economic reality.
- The Working Poor: Invisible in America, by David K. Shipler. The Working Poor examines the “forgotten America” where “millions live in the shadow of prosperity, in the twilight between poverty and well-being.”
- Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America, by Tiny, aka Lisa Gray-Garcia. Eleven-year-old Lisa is her mother’s primary support when they face the prospect of homelessness.
- Street Verses: Poems by the Homeless Writers and Vendors of Street Sense by Street Sense.
- Books for Children
- Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting. [ages 4-8]
- The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson, Garth Williams [ages 9-12]
- A Rose for Abby by Donna Guthrie, Dennis Hockerman [ages 4-8]
- Someplace to Go by Maria Testa, Karen Ritz [ages 4-8]
- Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan [ages 4-8]
- Changing Places: A Kid’s View of Shelter Living by Margie Chalofsky, Glen Finland [ages 9-12]
- Rosie, the Shopping Cart Lady by Chia Martin, Jewel Hernandez [ages 4-8]
- Mommy, Are We Homeless? by Jerrilyn Johnson
- A Kid’s Guide to Hunger & Homelessness: How to Take Action by Cathryn B. Kaye
- Soul Moon Soup by Lindsay Lee Johnson
- Our Wish by Ralph da Costa Nunez
- Voyage to Shelter Cove by Ralph da Costa Nunez
- Cooper’s Tale by Ralph da Costa Nunez
- A Shelter in Our Car by Monica Gunning
- Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn
- The Smoky Night by Eve Bunting
- Slake’s Limbo by Felice Holman
- Monkey Island by Paula Fox
- Newsletter articles
- Bulletin announcement
- Posters for church bulletin boards
Involving Children, Teens and Young Adults
- Find out more about and promote Night on the Street (held previously at Plymouth Congregational in April each year. www.nightonthestreet.org
- Coordinate efforts with your congregation’s children, teen and young adult programs to involve them in what’s being done or create special programs that involve them in different ways. How can they help?
- Have the Sabbath’s children’s sermon focus on the issue of homelessness, helping children to understand what it means and what everyone can do to help.
- Provide opportunities for the Children’s Education (i.e. Sunday School, Confirmation) to participate in the Sabbath.
- Offering of Letters during the worship service
- Provide information on Homelessness and a sample letter, collect, and show the gathered letters. Say a prayer for our elected officials and send them off.
- Offer letters at the Take Five Table
Hands On Service
- Make hygiene kits for people experiencing homelessness
- Provide volunteer opportunities at the Take Five Table
- DCEH Bike Program Repair Volunteers, Contact Heidi
- Overnight Shelter Volunteers
Raise funding or donations
- For DCEH
- For another service organization
- Gather items at your Sabbath to donate to local single, family, or youth homeless shelter or to a food shelf
- Designate one day for community members to skip a meal. Instead of purchasing food for that meal, donate that money to an organization.
- Sponsor a Gallery night to sell artwork created by people who have or are homeless.
Engagement in Future Opportunities
Pledge/Commitment Card/Opportunity Card
- Half-sheet pledge for congregational members
- offer opportunities for them to be able to live out their pledge through advocacy, education, volunteering (see Take Five Table Toolkit)
- Dedication during worship services (committed members stand up to be recognized, invite other members to make the commitment)
Take Five Table with information
- Written pledge with commitment and contact information to gather names and emails (in bulletin/program handout)
- Map showing location of congregations
- Information about Legislative Session 2013 and City of Minneapolis Budget (to come out in early November
- Stories/Connection to local community developments
- Educational information
Additional Liturgical Resources
Our Creator, The Lord of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad,
You have placed on us a responsibility to care for our neighbors, to seek out justice, an obligation to defend all that is weak, protect all that is innocent, to safeguard all that is fragile, and to cherish all that is precious. Keep us hearts and minds focused on the importance of ensuring all people have a place to live.
O beloved God (Allah),
Give us the openness and sight to see beyond the stereotypes of who is homeless, to hear the stories of youth, of families with all ages of children, and of single adults. Remind us that the visible image of homelessness is not the full reality, but daily teens, children, and parents are struggling to find housing and keep it.
We pray for our community, that people struggling can come to know a place of stability and find support needed. May your presence be known to people who find themselves without a place to live.
Give us courage to speak out and stand up for a better community that reflects your hope for the world. Give us inspiration to not be defeated if more people become homeless, but give us the steadfastness to work creatively and diligently to ensure that your creation is cared for.
May our words, actions, meditations and more be acceptable to you, oh, beloved God.
(Before the prayers, pass baskets containing Band-Aids, pennies, a can of food, toothbrush, or other items)
Oh, holy God, the challenges and barriers facing people with out a home or on the verse of homelessness can be so overwhelming and abstract. Help us to remember that the needs and prayers of each person are as real and individual as the item in our hand.
Holding up the item:
And so we pray this day for the children, for the youth, for the adults, for the families that are staying in shelter, staying on a family member’s couch, living under a bridge or in an abandoned building. We pray for the service providers, who provide basic needs and those who need these items. May they find the resources they need.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: God is great in our Land
God is supreme over all the peoples
Let everyone praise your great and awesome name.
People: Holy is God!
Leader: Mighty Rule, lover of justice, you have established fairness;
You have done justice and goodness in those who have gone before.
People: Holy is God!
Leader: Praise our God;
Worship before God’s throne
People: Holy is God!
Congregation Responses in Bold
God did not call us to succeed,
God called us to serve.
God did not call us to win,
God called us to work.
God did not call us to live long,
God called us to live for God.
God did not call us to be happy,
God called us to be hopeful.
God did not call us to fame,
God called us to faith.
CLOSING AND BLESSING
Go forth from this place to pursue justice,
Go forth from this place to protect all people.
Draw strength from each other;
Draw strength from your faith.
And may the blessing of the Holy surround and sustain you and every person you meet,
This day and forever more.
Recognition/Dedication of DCEH Congregations
Leader: O Healer of the World, we ask your blessing on all of our congregants here today as together we seek to live out our faith. We ask for courage and wisdom to be civic participants in our community and take action to ensure housing stability and end homelessness.
All: We hold as sacred all the work we and others have done to secure housing for all people because everyone deserves a place to call home.
Leader: Help us all to see and share the needs and worth of people living without housing.
All: We are compelled by our sense of the human family and by the divine dignity in each person to speak out for all who have been denied justice.
Leader: Be with each of us as we pursue, in faith, an end to homelessness and poverty.
All: We prayerfully live out our faith by speaking out on behalf of the needs of all your people, especially your people without housing.
All: Bless us as we go forth, together with 15 other downtown congregations, to work to ensure all people in our community will thrive. Give us the gift of anger at injustice, the gift of courage to be a voice for the voiceless, the gift of compassion for those in our community who are the most vulnerable, the gift of sustaining hope that hearts will not grow hard, and the gift of confidence that in caring for the stranger and the wounded that we are serving you. Amen.
___________ joins 15 other downtown congregations in blessing those who will advocate at a city, county, and state level ensure access to stable housing for all, which will end homelessness.
Information and Resources compiled in this document include:
From National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths Manual, http://tinyurl.com/8rohcje
Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week Manual, http://tinyurl.com/ykvcfy4
More information can be found in each of these manuals.