Urban Ministry

Seminary at Sing Sing

The months of May and June are always a special time for school commencements. And, each year, I really enjoy my opportunities to give commencement addresses at universities and seminaries across the country. But the one I gave last week was very special indeed.

Last Wednesday evening, June 11, I was blessed and honored to give the commencement address at Sing Sing Prison. The New York Theological Seminary offers a program of theological study leading to the degree of Masters of [...]

Hard-to-Learn Love

I won't even try to describe all of the maddening details of finding a HUD apartment for a homeless, no-income family that consists of a mother, five kids under the age of nine, and a nurturing father. It suffices to say that after three weeks of slogging through that kind of absurdity and ugliness, I began to understand why the mother, our friend Jaleena, tried to kill herself when her original building got condemned. Even with all that, we barely managed an awful apartment, and by the time [...]

Arrested for Feeding the Poor

Unconscionable: adjective

1. not guided by conscience; unscrupulous.

2. not in accordance with what is just or reasonable: unconscionable behavior.

3. excessive; extortionate: an unconscionable profit.

I have had some "unconscionable" things on my mind a lot lately as I have been working with the 20-somethings who make up Orlando Food Not Bombs and University of [...]

Keeping the Faith

For as long as I can remember, I've ended my letters and e-mails with the encouragement "Keep the faith." I must have picked that up from my father, since he's the only person I know who signs off the same way. It might have been more lucrative for me to have picked up "It's Friday, but Sunday's coming!" instead, but I've always preferred the flexibility of the simpler phrase. Not everyone who hopes for God's grace is a Christian, after all, and we who are surely hope for more than that. We [...]

Inner-City Riches

We've gotten enough calls and e-mails from folks concerned about my state of mind for me to think it's probably time for a more upbeat post. If you've been among those worried, you can rest assured that I'm far from despair. On the contrary, I can't remember ever feeling more alive than I have these past few years in Cincinnati, in spite of all the trouble and confusion we've found here. My [...]

Fighting Recidivism with Resurrection

On Easter Sunday sermons about new life and transformation, resurrection and redemption abound. At our church we celebrated the baptism of a young man living in a half way house and doing work-release in our community. The genuine hugs and welcome from the mostly black congregation for this young white man were warm and genuine. One church member sponsors work release, another church member picks up the four to five who come for events and church, and this young man felt touched by God in [...]

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