July 3, 2018

I am writing this letter before July 4, Independence Day, with the hope that you can gather with family or friends and celebrate the day. Maybe you won’t read the Declaration of Independence on this day, but I am grateful for words the founding fathers penned all those years ago, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” For centuries these words, truth, equal, life, liberty, happiness, have been the allure for many people to come to America seeking a better existence. Without them perhaps my ancestors would not have left their homeland and who knows what I’d be doing. But, here I am, part of St. Mark’s and starting my sixth year with you. It’s good to be here.

Recently I joined Brad Cannon from CCSA, Rev. Bill Jenkins from Christ Ministry Center, and Debbie Raysen from the Good Neighbor Center to talk about how we all might work together for the benefit of our neighbors. Earlier this year Christ Ministry Center welcomed the Good Neighbor Center (GNC) on to its campus at Meade and 33rd. Over 50 years ago the GNC started as a Methodist food and clothing ministry in downtown San Diego. It now has two locations, at Christ Ministry Center and Nestor UMC, and provides a beacon of hope to underserved individuals in San Diego. The work of the GNC mirrors the work of Community Christian Service Agency (CCSA) which just celebrated 45 years of work in Clairemont and Pacific Beach. CCSA also provides food, clothing and services to underserved individuals, so pairing the two agencies together to share resources, as needed, seemed like a natural way to better serve our neighbors in San Diego.

Actually, this work began two years ago when CCSA donated food and clothing to Christ Ministry Center for their humanitarian work with Haitian asylum seekers that were referred to them through Immigration and Customs Enforcement. During that time Christ Ministry Center helped over 5,000 people who traveled through San Diego after crossing through the port of entry at Tijuana.
And the need has not stopped. Christ Ministry Center continues to work with agencies and individuals to provide for refugees through their GateWAY Loft, which houses mothers and children, and a new volunteer program called Safe Harbors. On the Safe Harbors website, Rev. Jenkins says, “Safe Harbors are churches, individuals and organizations that help provide shelter for refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers. Our priority is keeping mothers and children safely together. Unlike “Sanctuary churches”, Safe Harbors shelters may be in the church, but may be in other safe places (homes, hotel, hostel, shelter). Safe Harbors’ refugees and immigrants are “documented”. (https://www.safeharbors.net)

Both CCSA and Christ Ministry Center work with volunteers so if you are interested in being part of this good work, contact either Brad Cannon or myself and we will connect you to the sites you’re interested in working at. Together we can continue the work started long ago as we love God and our neighbors as ourselves.

In Peace,