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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Vagabonds

I recently came across a somewhat surprising court battle being waged in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States. The case involves a struggle between the City of Orlando Florida and the First Vagabonds Church of God, along with other groups who advocate for the homeless. First Vagabonds Church was the brainchild of Pastor Brian Nichols, who was himself homeless for a time as a result of a back injury. His prayers led him to found a ministry for the homeless, and to feed the hungry. Pastor Brian passed away last year in 2009, but his work is being carried on by others.

You can learn more about Pastor Brian and the work he started by clicking on or pasting the following URL into your browser. http://www.myspace.com/firstvagabondschurch

First Vagabonds Church of God conducts open air worship services in city parks, and also feeds the homeless there. In 2006, the city of Orlando apparently passed an ordinance that limits group public feeding in city parks to twice per year in any one area. The law was challenged immediately, and has been see-sawing through the courts ever since.

Perhaps the most interesting comment I have read on this story came from Mark L. Vincent, a well known Mennonite author and stewardship advocate. In the September 30 issue of Depth Perception, Vincent questions whether both the city and the church’s attorneys have missed the point. The following is a brief quote from his article.


Feeding hungry people is not a "symbolic expression," but an essential action.
The devout followers of all this world's great religions fill their lives with
service to the poor--not as a symbol that they are religious, but as a
demonstration that they are humble, grateful for what they received, and aware
of the plight of the destitute. They simply cannot not do it.
Vincent’s comments remind us of Jesus prediction in Matthew 25;


Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are
blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation
of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave
me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you
visited me.'

Mark Vincent believes that where we serve the homeless is not the issue, but instead that serving the poor is among the highest priorities of ministry and as such is not optional. Do you agree?

Posted by Carman

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