The Covenant of Lake Street Church is the foundation of our ministry. It reminds us of “the living practice of Jesus to welcome the excluded and care for the vulnerable.” Because our church was a strong partner in advocating and establishing Hilda’s Place, Evanston’s first homeless shelter, founded in our church basement, we consider our nightly guests as family. The Matthew 25 grant has been instrumental in providing provisions for the twice monthly meals we prepare, serve and share in the church dining room for the shelter’s current residents. While our members bring in some dishes, essential elements of the meal, particularly the main entrees and drinks, are supported by the Mathew 25 grant funding. Because some of our residents don’t make it back to the shelter ‘til later than the served dinner, we prepare “late plates”, so those returning later can enjoy a complete warmed up meal. We get very appreciative feedback from our guests about the tasty homestyle meals our ministry team cooks up in our community kitchen, but the communal meal itself is the main focus, the camaraderie and the sharing of the day’s stories, nourishing volunteers and shelter residents alike.
We work regularly with the Night Ministry to make sure those who do not have sufficient or regular meals, can find food. Many of these people are actually homeless and still out on the streets late at night, since our offerings are used on the Night Ministry’s last stop. Others just don’t have enough food at home or their shelter doesn’t have food options. They come for friendship and healthcare as well as nourishment. Our sandwich making teams, composed of different congregational members every month, including our youth groups, make a hundred sandwiches and another team delivers them along with fruit and other food items subsidized by the Matthew 25 grant funds, to be distributed from the Ministry’s highly anticipated food truck in underserved neighborhoods in Chicago.
With the increased attention on the country’s immigration crisis, Lake Street Church has broadened its ministry to those caught up in the detention/deportation cycle. We used some of the Matthew 25 funding to augment the backpacks that we provide to immigrant detainees who are released from detention centers with the clothes they were picked up in months before, regardless of the current season. Our backpacks provide a fresh change of seasonally appropriate clothing, including warm coats, gloves and hats. The fund money also gives us the ability to make sure that the items not gotten through the donations of our congregants, such as personal care items and food for the journey, are in each backpack. These backpacks are a source of comfort and care and provide for basic needs as these travelers bus across the country (sometimes over several days), to stay with families to await court and asylum proceedings.
We appreciate the partnership and generosity of the ABCUSA grant that makes our work with the homeless, the hungry and immigrants possible. These brothers and sisters are surely the ones Jesus singled out in the beatitudes. We are happy to be able to act to lessen the effects of injustice while we work, as advocates, to change the policies and laws that allow these circumstances to exist.
The Matthew 25 Grant, sponsored by ABCUSA, is funded by a generous donor whose goal is to help meet the needs of “housing, feeding, education and health with regard to the less fortunate.” Ministries must be in relationship with American Baptist Churches to be eligible to apply. Awards for the Matthew 25 grant are made twice a year, in April and October, with application deadlines of March 1 and September 1. To view the guidelines and download the application form, click here.