As I was starting The King’s Jubilee in the Winter of 1989, I shared my vision for it with about 150 inmates at Graterford Prison who attended the Bible Study that I led on Saturday mornings. I had seen many organizations who had started out with good intentions and Christian charity transmogrify into cold, bureaucratic structures that seemed to focus more on organizational growth and longevity and less on the people they professed to serve.
To try to cut that off at the knees, I made it a requirement in our founding charter that every staff member or board member would be actively engaged in serving the poor face to face. I asked the inmates what my task should be. The immediate consensus was that I should serve the homeless on the streets of Philadelphia. So that has been a constant in my life and in TKJ since then.
A stated goal of the ministry was to find the Body of Christ and to work for the unity of the church. We had seen too many people who started out doing frontlines ministries become alienated and spiritually shipwrecked, because their churches dismissed them as radicals; or didn’t see their ministry as valid, because they couldn’t count any new members at church coming from it.
After several blind alleys, we finally came home to the Orthodox Christian Church in 1998. Far from being radical, we haven’t even approached being normal in our service to the poor, compared with the Saints whose icons surround us at church.