At the 10:30 AM service we had the rare but not unheard of occurrence of someone commandeering the service for the purpose of asking for financial help. In this case, a person well known to me as someone who frequently asks for help out of the discretionary fund took to the microphone during the announcements to ask for money to buy cannabidoids (a legal herbal supplement based on marijuana) from a local store. His actions caught me by surprise, and I struggled to find a way to curtail his plea while it was unfolding.
First of all, I spoke to him after the service to tell him that this was not an acceptable way to seek assistance, and reminded him of the proper channels. Should he attempt it again, I will intervene directly, and I would just ask your patience and calm should that occur.
But for those who were moved to help, or questionable about what we should do in that situation, or any situation in which a person seeks assistance from you or other worshippers on a Sunday morning, let me offer the following advice. You are, of course, welcome to follow your heart and provide whatever assistance you feel comfortable doing, but I would remind you that as a community we have set aside funds from our weekly offering to assist those in need, and those funds are curated by the deacons and myself. We are happy to talk to people, assess needs, and responsibly distribute funds, so it is a good and helpful option to refer the person or persons to speak with myself or one of the deacons following the service.
There also several agencies who provide food, shelter, and financial assistance in the community, including organizations we are active with: LINK, the Lawrence Community Shelter, Family Promise, Jubilee Café, and our own Trinity Interfaith Food Pantry. We also provide financial support to Catholic Charities, where one of our own parishioners works as a case manager. These are credible, responsible organizations staffed with professionals and volunteers trained to help people. If you want to know about these and other agencies in the area who help people in need, there are many handouts and flyers in the church office outlining who provides what services, and when.
Helping people in need is one of the main ways we emulate Christ in our lives and as a Church, and I am glad people feel comfortable coming to us seeking assistance. I hope this article helps us do so in a manner which is responsible, wise, and faithful. If you have more questions or comments on this topic, please don’t hesitate to seek me out and ask.
Yours in Christ,