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A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from a former member of the Task Force on Homelessness. It was no ordinary phone call from no ordinary man of faith. John Hoyt is a parishioner of St. Paul’s Bellingham, part of their weekly outreach program to the unhoused, and the leader of the pouch ministry. John is the kind of person I call a go-getter. John has been calling churches throughout the Diocese of Olympia to spread the word about what a pouch ministry can do and how to make the pouches. He has also called various churches throughout the US. The ministry provides pouches that allow each unhoused individual a safe container for identification, money, and other important personal effects.

John read about the Supreme Court case Johnson V. Grant’s Pass, the decision about which likely has been made public by press time. I had asked for ideas I could write about; this one caught me in a good place. John called every Grant’s Pass, Oregon church to talk about pouch ministry. He received interest from all but one, including the Episcopal Church. He learned most of those churches are trying to see the need, with most trying to serve the poor and unhoused in whatever way they can. One comment was about the homeless making a mess. But most comments were positive. Conversations included the need to provide food and safety. John described his effort as “casting bread upon the water.”

So, what is my point? And what is the point John is making through his effort? However small, every effort to serve the poor can positively affect outcomes. In the case of Grant’s Pass, I believe that contact from a man of faith reminds each church that the city is being watched and that each church can do something to move efforts to serve their neighbors. They are not alone – and neither are the unhoused.

Updates from the Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness

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