O GOD, Almighty and merciful, who healest those that are broken in heart, and turnest the sadness of the sorrowful to joy; Let thy fatherly goodness be upon all that thou hast made. Remember in pity such as are this day destitute, homeless, or forgotten of their fellow-men. Bless the congregation of thy poor. Uplift those who are cast down. Mightily befriend innocent sufferers, and sanctify to them the endurance of their wrongs. Cheer with hope all discouraged and unhappy people, and by thy heavenly grace preserve from falling those whose penury tempteth them to sin; though they be troubled on every side, suffer them not to be distressed; though they be perplexed, save them from despair. Grant this, O Lord, for the love of him, who for our sakes became poor, thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. -1928 BCP
Shelter Study Documents
The Shelter Study Committee completed its work in September 2008.
Ministering to the homeless is nothing new at St James. Covenant Shelter was founded in 1983 as a covenant between St James and St Mary Star of the Sea. Read more at the Covenant Shelter website...
"We believe that Christ is alive and in our midst, especially among our poorest and most vulnerable citizens...."
An Open Letter to the Citizens of New London
from the Vestry of St James Episcopal Church.
The Vestry of St James Episcopal Church has prepared the following response to The Day's editorial of Sunday, January 11th regarding the homeless shelter at St. James.
Since its founding in 1725, St. James has had a long history of leadership in New London and our ministry to the homeless goes back decades. In 1982, we joined with St. Mary Star of the Sea to found the Covenant Shelter for homeless families. Members of St James continue to serve on the Covenant Shelter Board. Other ministries at St. James serve our community as well, including:
- “The Lord's Pantry” (a source of free food staples)
- first Saturday Community Meal (a lunch offered without charge to all; other area churches offer this service as well so that every Saturday is covered)
- handmade quilts for children at Covenant Shelter
- hats, mittens, gloves, and scarves for area school children who need them
- “The Jumble Shoppe,” which offers inexpensive clothes and home goods
- a backup temporary shelter, at the City's request, for neighbors displaced by loss of heat during severe cold weather
- twelve step programs
- a welcoming place of worship for all.
When the City of New London closed its Social Services Department in 2005, St. James offered to house a temporary winter shelter. In the spring of 2007, with the City Council's approval, we extended Shelter operation year-round. The Shelter has not shut its doors since. As you know, it has been a source of vigorous discussion in our Parish, just as it has been throughout the community, and we have struggled to understand our calling to this ministry.
But we must be clear—our relationship with the Shelter through its manager, the Homeless Hospitality Center (HHC), is not a “legal maneuver.” It is part of our longstanding church mission of serving the homeless and otherwise marginalized members of our community.
We believe that Christ is alive and in our midst, especially among our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. Our considerable experience with homelessness tells us that the Shelter is a temporary solution to this problem. We believe, as most do in our community, that a permanent location is needed where more effective services can be brought to bear. St. James is fully committed to working with the City Council, the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the HHC to achieve that aim. Until then, our fervent prayer is that the Shelter will be allowed to remain open after April 30, 2009, so that we can continue to serve those whom Christ commands us to serve.
Yours in Christ,
The Vestry of St. James Episcopal Church
The reading for National Homeless Persons Memorial Day, 2008 was taken from Isaiah 58. This chapter offers a strong theological basis for support of the homeless (among others)....
False and True Worship
58 Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
2Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practised righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgements,
they delight to draw near to God.
3‘Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?’
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast-day,
and oppress all your workers.
4Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
5Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator* shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
9Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
11The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
12Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
The Covenant Shelter was founded as a compact between St. Mary's Star of The Sea Roman Catholic and St. James Episopal Churches in 1983. Today, both churches still provide regular support for the Shelter by conducting food drives, birthday parties for the children, quilts for the beds, food donations, monetary donations as well as providing a building to house our guests for the price of $1 per year. Covenent Shelter welcomes residents from all paths and do not require any particular religious affiliation or participation by any of the residents or staff members.
St James also hosts a year-round emergency shelter for the homeless on the 1st floor of Seabury Center. The New London Homeless Hospitality Center administers the shelter together with volunteers from the community and from St James. Our guests at the shelter are a part of our family, and it is our ministry to be able to offer them shelter from harsh elements when they need it, and a chance to gather in safety with others for common time. We have beds for up to 45 guests from 7:00pm until 7:00am. Although we do not offer meals at the shelter, there is coffee and often snacks are brought in by the volunteers.
Ours is a mixed gender shelter with segregated quarters for men and women. Regrettably, the shelter cannot take in families with children.
The causes and conditions of homelessness are not trivial to understand and our responses to it cannot be simple. Many are faced with daunting life problems with few or no resources. A few freely choose to live an outdoor lifestyle. It is not necessarily a problem that has to be "solved" for an individual, but many need our help to survive, especially during the cold season.
Learn more about Homelessness in Southeast Connecticut:
Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness