The King’s Jubilee. The jubilee in the Law of Moses was to happen every 50th year. There were to be Sabbath years every 7th year; the fields were to lie fallow and Hebrew slaves were freed for the year to give them opportunity to earn enough to buy their freedom permanently. The 50th year was a Sabbath of Sabbaths. It followed the 7th Sabbath year and included the cancellation of all debts, the freeing of slaves, and the redistribution of the land. The details of this can be found in Leviticus 25-27.
Bound into this plan was the proclamation of the truth that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.” Land, the most fundamental “capital” in an agrarian society, cannot be owned by men. It belonged to the Lord. So it could only be used for a time. Also, Moses’ God was a God of ‘second chances’ and the jubilee reflects this. One may make bad decisions which land one in poverty, debt and bondage. The Sabbath year comes along and gives a break and an opportunity to possibly work into a better situation. Every 50 years comes a radical redistribution, and another shot to live in freedom. The start of this year was marked by the blowing of horns and the lifting of a great shout!
The Jews never truly observed the Sabbath years or the Jubilee. That is why they went into captivity. They were in captivity for a year for every Sabbath year they had neglected.
In Isaiah 61, the ministry of Christ and his discipes is described as a continual Jubilee: “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” The early church was quick to get about the business of the Jubilee. The Epistle of St. James promotes economic equality and balance saying “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low; because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.” (1:9-10) The Apostle Paul spent one of his journeys collecting to provide for those suffering from a famine “that there may be equality.” 2 Corinthians 8.
So the “Jubilee” in our name stems from the desire to fulfill Jesus’ ministry of facilitating abundance to flow to those in our society in desperate need of a second chance. It is “The King’s” because it belongs to Jesus Christ the King of Kings, along with all that is given, all who serve, all who receive, and the very streets, parks, houses and prisons it is shared in.
Making it Personal
For four years (1985-1988), I worked full time as a volunteer prison chaplain and coordinated the work of over 500 volunteers in 10 separate prison populations in Philadelphia & Montgomery Counties and Graterford State Prison. While serving in that capacity, I learned firsthand of the glaring disparities between rich and poor, whites & blacks & browns, suburbs & city. I saw Montgomery County become one of the wealthiest in the country because of white flight from Philadelphia.
It seemed to me that if I were to have any kind of authentic voice to speak to these large and complicated issues, involving land use & zoning, discrimination, addictions, welfare dependency, absentee fathers, the depersonalization of our society, etc., I needed to do something personally to be more a part of a solution and less a part of the problem. The inmates at Graterford told me I needed to help care for the homeless in Philadelphia. I took that as my “Macedonian call” and started to serve homeless people a meal one night a week with Deacons Marvin Walker and Les Bodger.
In February 1989, my wife, Bethann, and I and our four daughters and a few friends formed The King’s Jubilee. The first thing we did was to take full responsibility for one of the nights of feeding homeless people in Center City Phila. to assist a storefront church that was going out three nights each week at that point. The next year, Nancy Karpinski wanted to start serving meals and sharing clothes among the poor (especially the children) on the streets of Pottstown & Stowe. We helped organize that and oversaw that work for several years. One thing led to another until The King’s Jubilee had weekly outreaches in seven towns in 5 counties in 2 states. In addition there were other deliveries of material aid to various ministries on various occasions. Plus we did free concerts and picnics in parks, a Monday Evening Bible Institute, etc.
Some of these ministries were continued under local leadership. Most discontinued as conditions changed or volunteers got tired or passed away. We always saw that as OK. “It is accepted according to what a man has, not what he has not.”
We have met a lot of interesting people along the way. What we do is not burdensome or sacrificial any more than having family is burdensome or sacrificial. “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.”
This ramble down memory lane has a point, I think. I wanted to introduce many of you to some of the background of The King’s Jubilee. But the real point of this is to say that it is possible to make a real difference in people’s lives with humility and grace. It doesn’t take a committee or a bureaucracy or a whole lot of resources. (The peak year for cash income of The King’s Jubilee was about $30,000. Most years have been under $8,000.) Mostly, what it takes is a selfish wilfulness to do the right thing.
Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship; created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” If I do not do the good works which I am made to do; I’m like square wheels on a wagon. But if I do what I am made to do, I am in a very happy situation!
What We Do Now
We serve those moving off of the street and help them adjust to their neighborhoods and new living situations. We also help support groups who do serve food by providing instruction on the regulations and on improved nutrition to strengthen immune systems and fight diabetes and heart disease among the homeless. You can explore our website to learn how to get involved.
We get to know the people and try to help those who want to get job training get what they need. Those who move into permanent housing we supply with a full complement of cleaning supplies and equipment through our Operation: Clean Start program. We also gather whatever furniture items they may need and try to stock their cupboards with some of the staples to start out with our Kitchen Jumpstart program. We exchange phone numbers, so we can stay in touch to try to make the transition into a neighborhood a bit easier.
We also gather resources for other front-lines ministries who do not receive government money, and pass it on to them. Occasionally, you may see special appeals for one or more of these on our blog or Facebook page.
We also have started the Virtual Rent Party which is a concept that we hope will reach nationally. It allows donors to help families and individuals in need to avoid homelessness; or to take the first steps out of homelessness.
We have also worked with Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery to help reopen it, in the hope that we will be able to provide a place for green burial for the abandoned poor of the city’s dead. We also look forward to starting a Community Development Corp. adjacent to the cemetery to dovetail with the revitalization effort and the job training and re-entry of those among the homeless who are able and desire it.
Our logo was designed by Wallace W. Wolff, a founding partner of DWKCB Architects, and a good friend. It is people of different races holding hands in the air lifting a shout. They form a crown. The ideas that we hope to convey with this logo are: “The Lord inhabits the praise of his saints.” “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.” The idea is that everyone we meet has something unique to contribute to the world, and that everyone is of equal value, and all the world belongs to all equally. We serve in joy and celebration of that, equals among equals, becoming family.
We can only do what we do, because there are many others who share the resources God has given them with us. Donations are gladly and gratefully received. In addition to checks and cash, personal size shampoos, soaps & lotions are always welcome, as well as men’s clothing in season.
We also sell custom framed, limited edition, original art pieces by Cranford Coulter. There are two series so far: “Lily Gilding” and “Going Native”. Each edited photo printed on canvas along with its unique frame tells a story or conveys a message. All proceeds go to keep The King’s Jubilee going, and to help people stay off the street. We have no paid staff.
Checks can be mailed to:
The King’s Jubilee
27 N. Front St.
Souderton, PA 18964-1148
Thank you. May the Lord bless you as you bless the poor in Jesus’ Name.
Cranford Joseph Coulter