By Jim Somerville at Ethics Daily

I see them shuffle in on Wednesday mornings when I volunteer. If it’s been either a hot, muggy night or a bitterly cold one or the rain has been pouring down outside, it can break your heart.

They take their seats with a sigh, remove their hats out of respect and wait for me to say whatever I’m going to say so that, afterward, they can get a cup of coffee and a pastry and wait for someone to call their number for a shower.

Sometimes when I mention the homeless in a sermon, someone will tell me afterward that they’ve had a bad experience with a panhandler who only wanted the money to buy alcohol, an experience that has made them suspicious of all such people.

I’ve had an encounter with a neighbor of the church who wondered why we let those people into our building at all.

“I used to live near a church in another neighborhood,” he said. “They didn’t always have homeless people hanging around.”

Read the full story at Ethics Daily.

The Didache

There is much talk about the middle class and the 1 percent in the Presidential campaign, but the word “poor” is almost completely missing from the conversation. This is happening while the portion of the population that is designated as “poor” or “living in poverty” is and has been growing by leaps and bounds for the last 40 years.  

Is there no preference for the poor? If ever a question challenged the supposition that the United States is a Christian nation, it is this one? The preference for the poor demonstrated by Jesus, carpenter of Nazareth and itinerant peasant who had no place to lay his head, stood as one of the church’s earliest and most passionate distinctions – a distinction that defined Christians against pagans and proved dramatically attractive to rich and poor alike. (The distinction defined Jews as well, but Jews did not evangelize.)  Read More…

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite the common claim that religion should be kept out of politics (or vice-versa), many Christians consider political involvement an appropriate response to their faith.

Here At the Threshold, Dr. Bruce Sloan discusses the shift of the Southern Baptist Church from historically Democratic (“We were not national Democrats,” he clarifies, “but Dixiecrats.”) to staunchly Republican — and his response as a pastor who not only stayed with the Democratic Party, but eventually became the county chairman.

As an alternate view, consider the OpEd by Matthew Lee Anderson in Relevant Magazine, titled Why I am a Christian Republican. Read More…

The following is part of a series of Interviews of Prisoners and Prison Ministers by William Barnwell. The first article in this series can be found here.

“We’re called to find in everyone that innocent child we were created to be and to speak

 to that child.”

February 18, 2012


WHB: Deacon Cindy Obier and I are having a conversation here at Trinity Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge. A deacon is one of the clergy orders in the Episcopal Church: there are bishops, priests, and deacons. Like the first seven deacons in Acts 6, deacons have a special role of serving those outside of the church as well as those inside.

Talk some, Cindy, about your growing-up years and how your dad was so influential in your life. Tell us about your Kairos experience at the women’s prison at St. Gabriel’s and your experience with the DOCC ministries at Angola Penitentiary these past ten years. [DOCC stands for the Episcopal program called Disciples of Christ in Community. It is a national program that helps individual parishes build what Dr. King called “the beloved community.”] And talk about your ministry on Death Row. Read More…