The Common Good

Contribute to the Needs of the Saints

Sojomail - June 21, 2007


"While there is little evidence that human nature has changed for the better over the past two millennia, a few historical events, like Britain's abolition of its extremely profitable slave trade, suggest that human history has also been something more than an endless contest of greed and power."

- David Brion Davis, a Yale University historian, in a column by Michael Gerson. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the end of the British slave trade, which Gerson calls “history’s strongest counterexample” to the claim that religion in public life only spawns hatred and extremism. (Source: The Washington Post )

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Contribute to the Needs of the Saints

Shane Claiborne and The Simple Way community are a good example of the old adage, "Be careful what you pray for." Evangelicals like to pray that Christian young people will learn to love Jesus and follow in his steps. Well, that’s exactly what this community has done. They believe that by plunging deeper into what the earliest Christians called "The Way"—the way of Jesus, the way of the kingdom, and the way of the cross—they rediscover the biblical reversal of our social logic, accepting that the foolishness of God has always seemed a little nuts to the world.

Early yesterday morning, a 7-alarm fire destroyed an abandoned warehouse in the Philadelphia neighborhood where Shane Claiborne and the community lives. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer:

"The five-story brick building, near the intersection of Allegheny and Kensington Avenues, was reported in flames at 3:41 a.m. It took two hours - and about 170 fire fighters with 40 engines and 15 ladder trucks - to get the fire under control."

The Simple Way’s Community Center and a number of neighbors' houses were also burned. The Simple Way community reported on its blog:

"The Simple Way Community Center at 3200 Potter Street was destroyed as well as at least eight of our neighbors’ homes. Over 100 people were evacuated from their homes, and 400 families are currently without power. Despite this developing tragedy, we are incredibly thankful to share that all of our community members and every one of our neighbors is safely out of harm’s way.

"The Simple Way has lost a community center that was home to our Yes! And... after-school program, community arts center, and Cottage Printworks t-shirt micro-business as well as to two of our community members. Community members Shane Claiborne and Jesce Walz have lost all of their belongings, Yes! And...’s after-school studio and library were ruined, and community member Justin Donner’s Cottage Printworks equipment and t-shirts were destroyed."

In response, the community has established an emergency relief fund for The Simple Way and for those in the neighborhood who lost their homes. In the spirit of Paul’s admonition to the church in Romans 12:13, "Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers," I encourage you to contribute through the link below and to remember the community and their neighbors in prayer.

Rebuilding Fund - For The Simple Way community, a fund has been established to help community members recover their losses and begin to decide what to do next. This will also support the projects of The Simple Way community like the community gardens, Cottage Printworks, Yes! And..., and other things in and around Potter Street. To donate to the Rebuilding Fund, please put "TSW-Rebuilding Fund" in the box on the online form.

Kensington Families Fund - For the families on Potter Street, H Street, and Westmoreland whose lives have been disrupted by this fire, a fund to support these families has been established. This money will go directly to families in our neighborhood. To donate to the Kensington Families Fund, please put "TSW-Kensington Families Fund" in the box on the online form.

Donate Online - You can donate online through a partner organization, EAPE. It is extremely important that you put EITHER "TSW-Rebuilding Fund" or "TSW-Kensington Families Fund" in the memo box of the form. Tax-deductible donations can be made here.

The life of The Simple Way community is an inspiration to many of us. Shane has described their life in one of Philadelphia’s poorest neighborhoods this way: "We narrowed our vision to this: love God, love people, and follow Jesus." In their time of need, we can show our love of God and the community by coming to their aid. I urge you to give as generously as you can.

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