To rediscover your local place of worship, can be surprising. It’s like living in a world where all books in shops are shops are inaccessible due to the shop being too far away or books being too expensive – yet there is a library nearby to get all you want to read, for free.
Likewise, we live in a country often there are millions combined who don’t have places to live, don’t have enough food to eat, don’t have the money to afford childcare etc. Yet we have hundreds of churches run by kind, loving people. Who would gladly welcome people of all faiths and none, to do a lot of these good turns for free or at low cost. Yet it’s as much as they can get to find a few parishioners to get through the door. It’s like the old Beatles song Eleanor Rigby: the lonely preacher at the end, preaches to no-one as nobody turns up to her funeral. Something’s amiss here. The solution is often right on our doorsteps.
- Livability has a great post on 10 ways that churches can help carers, often some of the most isolated people in society. The first one is obvious: phone up to offer help.
- If you are lonely or bereaved, priests, vicars, Rabbis and Imams are more than happy to give counsel. And unlike online therapists, most don’t even charge, save perhaps a small donation and a cup of tea. They have wisdom and compassion, and won’t have you doing cognitive behaviour therapy charts or totting up ‘points’ to see if you feel better this week, than you did last. But they may just sit down and do something that the NHS won’t do for stressed-out people these days (due to an obsession with CBT therapy that doesn’t work in most cases anyway). They will listen. And often, that is all people who are struggling need.
- If you are having a do, contact the local church, as often the church, church hall or grounds are up for rent, as churches are expensive to maintain, and take a lot to heat. You also know money is going to a good cause. We are a fairly liberal lot, so you should have issues if offering gentle yoga classes (more so, for a seance).
- Some churches have priests who ban yoga as it’s from India’s Hindu tradition. So is tea. In the US, one Catholic blogger suggests not drinking tea from a company that is run by a yogi. Their lives must be very complicated! So drinking tea from big companies like Unilever (which destroy the planet, test on animals and are making orangutans extinct due to its use of palm oil is okay – but drinking tea made by a friendly little Hindu monk in India is not?!) Linda Brown Holt (a member of the ‘liberal Catholic alternative’ Episcopal church) has a lovely post on why she enjoys both Christianity and yoga: She writes out the 8 limbs of yoga are nothing to fear: they are basically Indian versions of all the good stuff: be nice, tell the truth, don’t be greedy, act responsibly, and love God:
- Most priests are not child abusers. It is not true that the problem is small. It is a huge problem, with many cases being covered up by certain parts of the church. But most priests are honest and true, and will probably help out with free or low-cost rental of halls for childcare agencies, if you are feeling the heat financially.
Churches That Help Homeless People
Here are some churches that help homeless people. The churches have their critics. But there is no doubt that on the frontline, people of faith are doing their best to help the vulnerable in society. In fact, they could teach politicians a few things. The percentage of religious people who abuse the faith is low. So get involved, or support your nearest church that does good.
- Street Pastors is a network of volunteers who offer emotional support to anyone vulnerable. These are the guys who hand out flip-flops to drunk young ladies!
- Emmaus is a charity set up by French priest Abbé Pierre decades ago, after learning of a women who died clutching her eviction notice (followed by the baby of a homeless couple freezing to death on the street). Donate furniture & bric-a-brac and items are refurbished by homeless people who get a job, home and salary (white goods are PAT-tested, before being sold on in their nationwide shops).
- The Salvation Army has many volunteers to help homeless people. You can also donate unwanted clothes & shoes to their charity banks, found in most major towns.
- Hope into Action was inspired by meeting a newly-released prisoner, who was drinking on a bench, as he had nowhere to go. It works with over 50 churches who invest in property instead of the bank. These buildings are then used to give a leg-up for society’s forgotten: addicts, former prostitutes, people fleeing abuse, survivors of trafficking and those with mental health issues.
- Housing Justice has volunteers at local night shelters. Other charities that help include Church Homeless Trust, Glass Door & Robes (London), Cambridge Churches Homeless Project & Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness.