Newsletter from Senior Pastor Paul Dale
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” James 1:27. As we’ve been working our way through the book of James, we’ve been confronted by the reality of God’s command to care for the poor, needy, marginalized and vulnerable. I mentioned a number of people who took that verse seriously and brought significant change to our world. They were:
William Wilberforce - One of the brightest minds in the British parliament in the late 18th century. In his mid-20s, he became an evangelical Christian, and a few years after that, he was recruited into the abolition movement in England. For 20 years, Wilberforce campaigned in the parliament against the slave trade until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.
William Booth - In 1865, Booth formed the Salvation Army which mobilized into poor regions across London, establishing poor houses, homes for the homeless, job training centers and missions. Booth firmly believed that the gospel manifested itself in love for fellow man, seeking to relieve the misery of earth. The Salvation Army soon spread across Europe and the rest of the world.
St Francis of Assissi - In 1206, a young man by the name of Giovanni Bernadone made a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He was taken by the breathtaking lavishness of the church, but he could not ignore the contrast between the opulence of the basilica and the destitution of the beggars outside its doors. Giovanni exchanged clothes with one of the beggars and he himself begged for alms. He soon took on the name Francis and founded a religious order devoted to not only helping the poor but giving up all worldly possessions to live with them.
St Basil of Caesarea - St. Basil ardently defended the truth of the Christian faith as well as being generous toward the poor. In one of his infamous sermons he stated, “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor.”
Frances Willard – A great American suffragist in 1800s and temperance reformer. Her life was affected by the loss of her father and her brother’s alcoholism. The sad result was the remaining family falling into debt. As a young woman, Willard decided to get active in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). It was the first mass movement for women concerning itself the big social problems of the day. These included alcohol abuse, prostitution and public health issues. Most important, they campaigned for women to have the vote.
Dorothy Day - Born in New York in 1897, Dorothy Day made her mark on the world by starting the Catholic Worker Movement and she fought for workers rights her entire life. After seeing the working conditions of the poor and homeless, she founded the Catholic Worker newspaper. She wrote frequently about the injustices perpetrated on the poor and spent her whole life being marked as a political radical.
I encourage you to read more about these people. But more importantly I urge each of us to take every opportunity to care for those who are poor, vulnerable and needy – both in society and in our church family.
Love & prayers