The Common Good
July-August 2003

What the Mean Streets Teach

by Rose Marie Berger, Kate Bowman | July-August 2003

Calling herself "Aly," the Episcopal bishop of Rhode Island, Geralyn Wolf, spent the month of January on the streets, befriending the homeless and sleeping and eating in shelters.

Calling herself "Aly," the Episcopal bishop of Rhode Island, Geralyn Wolf, spent the month of January on the streets, befriending the homeless and sleeping and eating in shelters. About a year ago, Wolf was contemplating how she'd spend the first sabbatical she'd taken in more than 25 years of ministry. "It wasn't a flash of lightning," she said. "It was a sense that in my rather privileged position I was losing touch with what I was yearning for, which was a sort of earthiness, people of passion and generosity."

As a "homeless" woman, Wolf visited Episcopal churches in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, and no one recognized her, not even her own clergy. "I have this power as the bishop of the diocese, but so often I'm bound up in pettiness," Wolf told The Providence Journal. She's learned some lessons along the way. For instance, she wants to establish micro-credit programs for the homeless in Rhode Island.

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