Well, we're working together with the LCC church around the corner to help the poor in our community. Last year their church set a goal for themselves, to collect a certain amount of food for our local food bank. The shelves there get pretty empty around this time of year so they set their goal to help restock the shelves.
This year they thought it would be fun to involve another church. They called and asked if we'd be up for a friendly competition, to see which church could collect the most during the month of September. I said I'd think about it, maybe talk to some of the church council to see what they thought, then moments later I called back, having made the decision on my own, and said "Let's do it. It'll be fun and it can only help the food bank."
We've got two members of our congregation who faithfully bring a bag of canned goods for the food bank week after week. Others might bring something sporadically. More will bring something when we put a big push on around Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving or when there's an emergency because the cupboard is bare.
I've been encouraging the congregation week after week to bring their donations. Week One brought in 72 pounds (the weighing isn't really very accurate. I plop a box or bag of groceries on a bathroom scale but each time I place it on the scale I get a slightly different number). Week Two brought in 155 pounds, and Week Three we collected 240 pounds. At this point we contacted a local paper to see if they wanted to put something in about our competition. The other pastor, the chairwoman of their social ministry committee, and I had our picture taken at the food bank in front of a shelf with a few boxes of Mac and Cheese and a few cans of Pork and Beans. We were up to 467 pounds. They were up to 369 pounds.
I didn't think we could top the 240 pounds we collected in Week Three but this morning I weighed and delivered our collections from this past Sunday and in Week Four we had 309 pounds bringing our total to 776 pounds. The other church did even better than us this time with 365 pounds bringing their total to 734 pounds. They've certainly narrowed the gap and they're hoping some people will bring things to the church by Friday to see if they can catch up and/or overtake us.
I don't really care who wins. Neither of us are huge churches. Our average attendance on a Sunday is about 50 and they're somewhere in that neighbourhood too. Our little churches have colleced 1510 pounds total. It's awesome! This is neighbour love. This is thanksgiving for all that we've been given. This is help for the poor.
It's a shame that we have to have a food bank. I'd love it, and so would the volunteers who work there, if that food bank would go out of business. But there are working poor and people on social assistance in our community who always end up with more month left at the end of the money. Bishop Preibisch of the British Columbia Synod (http://www.bcsynod.org) reminded us recently that in 1990 the House of Commons unanimously resloved to "seek to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000" yet today more than one million Canadian children (nearly one child in six) still live in poverty. In November 2003 Prime Minister Paul Martin said,
"We must measure our progress by the standard of care that we set for the least privileged among us . . . . The true challenge of leadership is to rally a nation to its unfulfilled promise. To build a society based on equality, not privilege; on duty, not entitlement. A society based on compassion and caring; not indifference or neglect."
Nice words but where's the action? It looks like we'll be challenging our people to donate food to the food bank more and more. As Bishop Preibisch has said, "We can take up the Prime Minister's challenge by rallying our nation to fulfill the promise to end child poverty." Amen