By Lisa Gustaveson, Program Manager Faith & Family Homelessness Project
What do we do now??? Puyallup Nazarene Church had just been notified they had been selected to participate in Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry’s Faith & Family Homelessness Project. Pastor Dave Rodes put out the call to his congregation, and 8 members quickly agreed to take on the task of leading the effort. The FFH team began meeting each Tuesday evening to brainstorm, plan… and pray. After a few months of team building and research – which included pushing themselves to think “outside the box” and move beyond comfort – the plan was complete.
The team kicked off their FFH project on Sunday October 14 with an ambitious – and very successful – photo exhibit and children’s art display. During worship services Pastor Dave called upon the PNC family to open their eyes and hearts, and remove the stereotypical view of homelessness. Welcoming everyone in the congregation to increase their effectiveness of ministry to homeless families, Pastor Rodes directed attention to a FFH brochure included in the worship materials. Beautifully designed, the brochure offered the congregation background information about the project, while providing reflection on “God’s Heart for Social Justice” (Isaiah 58), and a “Menu of Opportunity”.
PNC FFH team members estimated that more than 200 men, women and children walked through the exhibit after the first service, looking deeply into the faces of the homeless families. The photos were created by the acclaimed photojournalist Dan Lamont, a 2011 Seattle University Journalism Fellow. One man reflected how it’s much harder to look away, when its right in front of you. By inviting “in” the crisis of family homelessness through congregation wide activities like the photo exhibit and youth banner, PNC hearts are opening even wider to the hidden struggles of homeless families.