Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Peace, love, and justice: a dialogue

[Dialogue written and presented for Community United Methodist Church of Naperville, IL for vocational discernment service on July 21, 2013. Also posted at Red Poppy Fields.]

Joe: This is Kacie. She is southern girl from just north of Nashville, Tennessee.

Kacie: This is Joe, He is a Pensyltucky boy from the mountains of central Pennsylvania.

Joe: Kacie knows just about every country song on the radio and about every Nicholas Sparks-inspired movie in the theater.

Kacie:  Joe is not afraid of camping in the mountains where there are hundreds of bears, plus he is a big sports fan, maybe not the Chicago bears but definitely a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Joe: Kacie is an artist. She is very visual, very tactile. She sees scenes of color and texture and transforms ordinary things into works of art.

Kacie: Joe is very intellectual. He uses big words, mainly because his head is always stuck in a book. It’s a beautiful site to see him so concentrated on his reading. He reads books by authors like Paul Tillich and Alice Walker.

Joe: Kacie is also very passionate about justice for women.

Kacie: Joe is also very passionate about justice for workers.

Joe: And so it makes perfect sense—

Kacie: That we met in—

Both: Washington, D.C. at Ecumenical Advocacy Days.

Kacie: I feel that we both have a call to advocacy, which means joining with the voices of the poor, the weak and the marginalized to make change in our nation and world by speaking stories of truth in our communities to our local, state and national leaders.

Joe: We’ve both had strong religious experiences where we felt transformed by God—what John Wesley would call “justifying grace”—but we also continue to feel the Spirit move us toward acts of mercy and justice for people around us. Wesley called that part “social holiness.”

Kacie: One of the biggest issues we advocate for is poverty and food justice. We both help with a student and homeless ministry in the South Loop of Chicago. We have a community meal with students and people from the streets, make sandwiches together and walk the streets with our friends to pass out the sandwiches.

Joe: There’s this one community off Lower Michigan where about a half dozen homeless people usually sleep. Someone wrote a Bible verse on the wall there. We always drop off a couple of sandwiches for the folks there. Last week, they were all gone and the Bible verse had been painted over. We figure that the city had evicted them for the Taste of Chicago and a movie someone was filming.

Kacie:  This is community, and we feel like we are part of the community. We are all equal, and deserve equal treatment in our society. We go to our local, state and national leaders to remind them about our friends on the street. These are the stories of truth that make up our society.

Joe: Jesus and his followers also spent much of their ministry among the sick, the poor, the socially marginalized. As two followers of Jesus Christ in 21st century Chicago, we continue to practice ministry with our friends and neighbors—Black, white, Latino—

Kacie: Gay, lesbian, transgender—

Joe: Native born and immigrant—

Kacie: Rich and poor.

Joe: We are all one in Jesus Christ.

Kacie:  Last week I completed my internship with Bread for the World, a national organization that works with churches to end hunger through advocacy. I am using this training to start a sewing ministry for homeless women.

Joe: And I’m in seminary, making my way through the process of becoming a United Methodist pastor. I’m finding ways to incorporate God’s call for justice in acts of preaching, teaching, and service.

Kacie: One thing I’ve done in response to my call to justice is write letters to my congressional representatives. I was able to do this through Bread for the World’s offering of letters program.  I invite you, too, to write a letter to your member of congress on issues dealing with food justice or just an issue you are very passionate about, especially if you cannot travel to DC or Springfield. Get a group of friends together and write an abundance of letters. This is definitely a way to raise your voice and speak for justice.

Joe: If you’d prefer a more direct action route for justice, I encourage you join with me and my friends at IIRON, a regional community organizing network. We’ve set up shanty-towns in Federal Plaza, had flash-mobs at the Apple store, and occupied abandoned properties to show how too much money is going to excessively wealthy corporations at the expense of our friends and neighbors.

Kacie: Even though Joe loves brown and his Carhartt jacket—

Joe: And Kacie loves pink and lace.

Kacie: Joe is very talkative,

Joe: Kacie is a bit more introverted.

Both: We both have a place at the Lord’s table with—

Joe: Peace

Kacie: Love

Both: and justice.

Kacie Greer and Joe Hopkins outside of Sen. Mark Kirk's office
 in Washington, D.C. They are now engaged and plan to marry in 
June of 2014.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


ok ok, I'm going to have to start with the quotes of a song again.. Maybe I should just have you listen to this song.

I have recently faded from listening to the contemporary christian music. I feel this is because I am growing in other ways, but when I do find myself listening to some of the older christian music I used to be hooked on I find this inner self. This part of who I used to be come back. The simple me before I was open to the truth of the world. This is a great feeling of innocence though, it reminds me that there is still need for innocence in the world. It also reminds me that within all of us and because of our human nature we are all the same when it comes to love. I am not talking about romantic love but the love that Jesus taught us in the Christian Bible.

This is a recap of what I have been experiencing the past few months in Chicago. The experiences I have seen have painted a picture of the love that human nature composes. What I recognize is that everyone no matter what race, income, gender, etc has moments when we come out of the blindness of reality and let kindness talk for you. I have been particpating in an amazing ministry in the South Loop. It's called South Loop Campus Ministry and was started up by a local pastor I am friends with from the Bridgeport neighborhood. I was invited of course because I'm a college student and I sometimes attend the church in Bridgeport. I went the first night to the South Loop campus ministry at Grace Point Church on Dearborn and expecting to meet 15-20 other college students and make new friends. Out of my surprise my new friends were not other college students, but homeless folk. That night at the ministry there were 3 college students including me. My boyfriend, our friend Charlie and myself. We ate the dinner that was made for us and the 4 or 5 homeless people joined us for a meal. The thing about this ministry is that it was initially for college students in the South Loop, but the house was opened for anyone in the area so the homeless folk are welcome to participate as well. Well, after our meal that night there were tons and tons of bread, lunch meat, chips, cookies leftover. Pastor Tom had mentioned lets just pack up the extra and take it to the people on the streets. Not one of us questioned him. We all looked at each other and began packing up what we had with what we had! We had plastic shopping bags, plastic bowls and saran wrap. The 4 of us began getting this food together and in a matter of 20 minutes we found ourselves walking the streets of Chicago down to Michigan Ave and Grant Park then back up to State and Dearborn. We found the people living on the cold streets and they were more than happy to see us. After doing this that night my heart was pounding with some sort of joy. A spontaneous mission turned into hope for about 20 people that night.
Well this mission did not end that Sunday. The South Loop Campus ministry still is in action today. Almost every Sunday night we have been gathering at Grace Place to make sandwiches, eat and, make friends. It seems like each night there are more of us involved as well. The homeless folks that come tell us stories of their lives in the shelters they are living in, and about their past careers. Many have lost jobs, many are retired veterans, many are out of college and can not find a job. They are people with dreams and goals just like myself. I think that I why I seem to have a hard time distinguishing who at our table of about 30 people is homeless and who isn't. To me now this does not matter. We all have our stories and our communities that we are from.  This has just become our time to collaborate our lives and communities together.

When walking the streets of Lower Wacker last Sunday I began to see the homeless community of Chicago. They stick up for one another just as I do for my friends and neighbors. One of the warmest feelings is when one of the people we give bags of food too become so energetic and point out where more people are sitting, and then we head that way. There are also many homeless folks that deliver food with us after the meal. They tend to always know the best places to take us. It is quite fun! The smiles, laughs and running, cold weather (such a random list) makes our mission even stronger. The help from our homeless friends makes it even stronger. We depend on them, their stories, their adventures and their truth to make our mission succeed. As blind as we are it is really not that hard to open our eyes.