We celebrate St. Paul's alms ministry! In over 10 years of service, the ministry has grown from four people to a team of over 20 individuals. Initially serving less than 200 persons annually, the ministry served over 1,000 souls in the past year.
Our mission is simple:
"To provide personal, useful, and faith-based support to people in need by offering individual conversation, available resources, and effective, appropriate referral to other churches and community agencies."
And our clear hope is...
"...that this ministry and its work will meet needs, communicate the caring of the Church, and encourage and inspire others to respond to the poverty of the marginalized in our community."
On Tuesday mornings from 9:00 to 10:00 at St. Paul's Church, the alms ministry meets to provide personal, useful and faith-based support to people in need. We listen. We have a conversation with people at a human level. Three ministers meet with each guest to hear their story and understand their need. We help by providing financial support and telling them about available resources, and by making appropriate referrals to other community agencies.
The emergency financial assistance is a small, but critical, part of our ministry (it averaged only $17.00 per person served last year). Money can rarely "fix" the problem, but it gives hope that there is a way out. It shows that someone cares.
Often we hear "I had breakfast at Maple Alley Cafe, and they told me you might have help here?" These are typical requests: a monthly WTA bus pass ($25), a new ID ($20), gas ($25). Sometimes the need is to pay back rent or utilities, which can be hundreds of dollars. Then we tap our amazing network of faith-based institutions.
In the past few years, we have expanded our efforts to be part of a Support Network with institutions such as Assumption Catholic Church, First Baptist Church, Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, Hillcrest Chapel, The St. Vincent de Paul Society at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Northwest Baptist Church, the Salvation Army, Love in the Name of Christ (Love INC), Hope in Christ Church, and, recently, the Lettered Streets Covenant Church. This has allowed us to meet financial needs greater than any one church could address individually.
But the ministry is not just the 15 ministers. Each of you is part of it, too. Three thousand dollars of the nearly $17,000 spent this past year came from our parish budget, supported by your pledges. The balance—the major part of the financial assistance we can offer—has come from your donations directly to the Alms Ministry.
We ask for your continued financial support. This ministry is a vital part of serving our community.
If you wish to make a donation, red envelopes are available in the front and back of the nave and in the Great Hall. To earmark a donation to the Alms ministry, include a note, put it in an envelope or mark the memo line on your check "ALMS MINISTRY".
Special thanks to all who contribute to the jar in the great hall. The money goes directly to those who need it desperately.
We ask especially for your prayers—for the ministers, for our guests, and for those with whom we work in the Support Network.
We ask also for your participation in the ministry, if that seems appropriate for you. We lost four ministers in the past several months—two relocated to another city, and two met untimely deaths. We're always eager to welcome new ministers.
Contact Ann or Pug Edmonds at the church for more information. (360) 733-2890 ext. 1208
Winter is coming, and people are already anxious about paying for propane or electricity or gas.
Winter is coming, and people are worried about being too cold and too wet outside in the camps or on the sidewalks.
Winter is coming, and families are thinking about the holidays and no home.
What choices are there? What to do? Alms ministers listen, share information about help in town, and encourage our guests to take action, make decisions, and persevere. Thank you, people of St. Paul's, for sharing in this outreach ministry.
He was down, pale and sad. He'd been sober for 8 years. Then, in two months, he'd lost everything he'd gained with sobriety. But, he was determined to start again. A $50 deposit for a place in a Clean and Sober House place and prayer sent him out the door with a smile.
He'd come to Alms, gone to the Support Network, collected enough pledges for his bus ticket home. At Hope House, he traded in his pledges for a check to Greyhound, got a small bag of food, a pair of dark glasses, and a baseball hat. Carrying the rest of his possessions in a huge waterproofed backpack, he strolled away. Glad to be going home, to family and, he hoped, to a job.