For people in Shreveport, Louisiana, Christian Service (CS) represents different things. For many of the young generation, the term CS revives the happy memory of a picnic the first time they ever had the chance to be outside their own Ledbetter Heights neighborhood. To older Shreveporters, CS means the widespread feeling of community forged when members of various races and religions broke with tradition and got together. To contemporary Shreveporters, it means the annual CS Telethon, sponsored by the local cable station, which raised $100,000 last year.
To some, CS is the startling oasis (comprised of five neatly painted houses) that brightens ramshackle Ledbetter Heights, the most economically underprivileged section of Shreveport. In one of those five houses, 200 people are fed daily; in two houses, there are private rooms for men and women who need a place to stay; in another house there is a mini-mall where those short of money can shop free; in yet another there is an apartment ready for those who feel called to CS.
At the heart of it all is Sister Margaret McCaffrey. Two decades before the Call to Renewal made history by arranging the religious round table in Philadelphia in 1997, Sister Margaret made history in Shreveport by organizing the Poor Man's Supper that drew whites and blacks from many different religious denominations to the first citywide CS event. Incredulity and pride marked that evening as Shreveporters, always separated by economic and cultural practices, supped soup and broke bread together.