Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
–Matthew 6:9-13

This week at YHC, things are different. Events will crowd our evening calendars more than usual. A parade will happen. Opening basketball games will be played. Folks will return to campus who have not been here for some time. It should be a great and exciting week.

Yet, there is something else going on this week at YHC that coincides with our homecoming festivities. We are recognizing Homelessness Awareness Week, too. As we look forward those who return to our campus to celebrate coming home, we, also, encourage everyone to take this week’s emphasis on coming home to reflect on those who have no home to which to return. And, with this past week’s conversations about who is occupying what and for what reasons, a new jobs report and its unemployment numbers, the country’s debt pushing past $15 trillion, the European political crisis, and a cloudy economic forecast, the number of folks without a home or the threat of not having one seems all the greater.

Here are some provocative statistics. According to some studies, the average age of a person in the United States without a home is 9 years of age. Children constitute nearly 39% of the US homeless population. Nearly 25% of homeless are employed. Over 40% of the male homeless population in the US are veterans of the US Armed Forces. These are just some of the demographics that help fill-in our picture of our community members who are without homes.

Expanding those numbers further, according to a September 2011 NY Times article, over 46 million Americans live below the poverty line, accounting for more than 15% of the US population. These numbers are at their highest in the 52 years that US Census Bureau has been collecting the data. In Towns County, our poverty rate is just over 12% and has risen steadily over the past few years. And, the county food pantry is giving to local families at an escalating rate.

Clearly, there is awareness to be raised, work to be done, and opportunities needed for us to do both.

This week, join us as we seek ways to connect our learning this information to our capacity to do something about it. On Wednesday, chapel will take place off campus . . . well off campus. We will travel to Asheville, NC with several vanloads of students to serve and share a meal and to worship with the Haywood Street Congregation, a congregation started specifically to be populated by the homeless of Asheville. On Thursday, we will hold our annual Rice Day, choosing to eat just rice and drink just water, raising awareness and offering solidarity with the majority of the world’s population who subsist on rice and water each day. Sodexo will make a donation to the Towns County Food Panty for each person that chooses to eat rice and drink water rather than share in the College restaurant’s regular buffets. Finally, on Thursday at 7pm, we will offer a viewing of “The Soloist,” a movie about a man and his struggles to escape poverty and homelessness.

Each of these opportunities is meant to increase our knowledge about issues of homelessness and poverty both generally and locally while also supplying occasions for us to transform our knowledge into transformative action, converting the potential energy of our prayers that God’s kingdom might come into a real kingdom filled with enough for all that is shared with all.

Have a great week.


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