We’re on the road again!

The King’s Jubilee resumed serving on the street last night. Tony and I made soup and hot chocolate. We picked up a case of bottled water and cups. Our best driver, Will Toy, drove the newly, half-painted orange, yellow and green TKJ-mobile to Philadelphia. We made three stops to find people and serve the hot soup and hot chocolate and water. Tony went down into Suburban Station giving out water and inviting people up. Several people expressed their love for us and their joy at seeing us again after so many weeks absent. We also met a couple of young men from Minneapolis, who were so grateful for so many hospitable groups in Philadelphia.

It felt good to be on the road again. We had good, honest conversations on the way there and on the way home. Tony shared some of his vision for the future of The King’s Jubilee. He said that we will rebuild it from the ground up to be bigger and better than before. He sees it being more integrated with other agencies and thus, better equipped to help with various needs of our homeless clientele to help them move off of the street. He also works at Tindley Temple UMC’s Soup Kitchen, so there is already another connection, with our people. Most of the staff there are senior citizens, so he sees additional services involving seniors and for seniors. He is hoping to widen our base of volunteers so we can truly help men and women break out of the homeless culture and reintegrate into neighborhoods.

Of course, we cannot do any of this without support. We desperately need monthly pledges. It can be done easily and painlessly using Paypal, utilizing any of your credit or debit cards. Make a $25/month pledge today, so we continue to serve the poor and homeless. We operate on a frayed shoestring and give everything to the poor.

Thank you!



Fred’s Gone

Cranford & Fred at the Love Park
Cranford & Fred at the Love Park in 2010

It is so difficult for me to speak of Fred Benjamin in the past tense. I was speaking to him last Wednesday. His presence was always a little more than one could contain. One never knew quite what to expect, except that he would be high energy, assertive, and want to be involved.

Fred lived on the streets for over twenty years. On three occasions in 2010, he helped lead teams of volunteers on tours of the center city homeless experience for The King’s Jubilee, which included the refrigerator box he had lived in for many months. He had a desire to give back and to volunteer. He made friends with the Haverford College women, some of whom wrote to him from Sweden and Germany when they were on semesters abroad. He gave Esther McGraw her street name of “Trooper”, because of all nine of the McGraw children, she came down the most faithfully in all kinds of weather and truly enjoyed serving. She started as a tiny girl. Now she is in her twenties and is helping coordinate Thursday night meals for Twelve Baskets Full.

Fred had a temper and could be ornery, but he was loyal and with his charm and smile, one could not stay angry at him for very long if he got out of hand. He kept fights away from volunteers more than once or twice.

It was about 6 years ago that Fred moved off the street into an apartment. We helped him find furniture and a VCR and computers, etc. He still came out to help serve, and we’d give him rides home, many times. About a year ago, we didn’t see him so much. He said it was because he was taking care of his mom. I’ve met his mom. She seems fine. I have since learned that’s when his health took a turn for the worse. He says it was diabetes, but it was some kind of aggressive kind of wasting disease. He lost 120 pounds in 2 months according to his mom, after he had come down to 240. So in the end his blood sugar spiked and his blood pressure spiked and there was not enough of Fred left to fight it. He passed away at 7:08 am, July 18, 2015, in his apartment, with his cat, L.B. His mom had the police and fire break down the door to find him shortly thereafter.

Fred Benjamin had no insurance and his family has little money, so they are relying on the mercy of Fred’s friends to defray the cost of Fred’s funeral. They chose a modest service. The whole cost is $5500. Between Twelve Baskets Full and TKJ, we have at least $500 collected so far. This harks back to one of the 1st century ministries of Christians and is a powerful statement of love and mercy to the community. You may use the Paypal button to join in.

The viewing and funeral for Fred will be Wednesday, July 29, at:
Jason Lloyd Funeral Home
2125 N. 22nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19121
Viewing & Visitation: 9 am – 11 am
Funeral: 11 am




Rising From the Ashes

It was an overreaction to state that our doors were closing. The truth is serving meals on the streets of Philadelphia was never intended to be the core of the ministry of The King’s Jubilee. It was just what the inmates at Graterford Prison set for me to do personally as I was starting the ministry. The prophetic ministry that has angered so many people was much more at the core of the ministry, as the goal of TKJ is not just to facilitate almsgiving, but to realize the King’s jubilee as Isaiah described it in his great jubilation song of chapter 61, which Jesus quoted in Luke 4, when he introduced his public ministry, and the ministry of all who would be his true disciples!

So people have gotten upset with me and say I shouldn’t be political and claim that the Gospel isn’t political. Well if the Gospel isn’t political, why were all the people enraged and wanted to stone Jesus? These were the political power brokers of Jerusalem. Yes. They were church people, just as they are today. Yes. they had no time for Jesus rearranging their lives and laying claim to what they mistakenly thought were their riches, just as they don’t today. The sounding of the “Jubal”, from which we even derive the word tuba, signified the Jubilee which meant that all the land and everything in it belonged to YHWH. The Law prescribed a radical redistribution of the land (the most basic capital in an agrarian society), freeing of all slaves, cancelling of all debts, and a rest for the land and for the draft animals.

This was not just for the Jews and to be forgotten. This was the core lesson of the whole Old Testament. The Jews never kept the sabbath years and the Jubilee. For this, they went into captivity. “These things were for our admonition.” Then Jesus quotes Isaiah’s Jubilee proclamation to initiate the new era in Luke 4. The early Christians took this seriously. That’s why they were martyred so regularly and why so much change took place. They went out and gave proper burials to the pagan poor and slaves whose bodies had been thrown on the trash heap, honoring every human being equally. They rescued babies who were left to die because they were the wrong gender or families had too many, and raised them as their own, respecting and having compassion for every life without discrimination no matter the cost. They honored and protected women, as they revered Mary as she who bore Jesus, establishing monogamy and chastity as the standard. Women were apostles and deacons and some say Priscilla was a priest. She is adorned so in an icon in a chapel under the Vatican. They were a mighty army of radical love; an army that died, but never killed. This is what Jesus called us to.

I am still a follower of Jesus. I have been abused by too many clergy to feel comfortable in church. I suffer with CPTSD from non-sexual clergy abuse. I don’t sort out saved and lost. Jesus forbade that, when he said, “Judge not.” and “Judge nothing before the time.” I don’t care if you or I are atheist today or tomorrow or not, or Muslim, or Jew, or Hindi, or any number of religions or philosophies with which I am not familiar. We are all subject to where we fell out of our mother’s wombs on this orb, as to what we believe, what nationality we are, what language is our primary, etc. It’s interesting, but nothing to be judged on. We welcome anyone to serve with us.

You will see on our site and on our literature that we serve in Jesus’ Name. The Hebrew sense of serving in someone’s name was not to be calling out their name all the time or even ever. It was to be serving according to their will and wishes. So what we mean is that we attempt to follow the Golden Rule. We serve people with dignity and respect. We do not look down upon those we are serving or make them feel as if they are anything but equals, brothers and sisters. We never use an institutional approach. Every one is special and unique. There are no cookie cutter solutions.

So, where from here?

We intend to continue to do and develop our services to those transitioning off of the street. We had hoped to not be serving people on the street by this time at any rate, hoping there would be no need. We already have our Clean Start and Kitchen Jumpstart programs that need continued support and participation. We also have our Rent Party program which we will be expanding and promoting as this is a vital need to help folks move off of the street. We will be developing a one on one or posse friendship program to help people make the move off the street. It can be very hard for people. Homelessness is not just the lack of walls in our city. It is its own subculture. People need something to replace that with if they are to succeed. This is where city volunteers come in.

I will be working, finishing my cookbook / nutritional guide for ministries serving the homeless. We have raised the bar over the years nutritionally, and would like to see others follow suit. I want to share this knowledge of the hows and whys and what nots, before they escape from memory.

Please join us in this next phase of The King’s Jubilee. We need your regular monthly support, even if it’s just $10. Use the Donate button below. Thank you. God bless you.




The artwork above is available at 24″x24″ for sale in a custom, handcrafted frame. It is entitled “Phoenix”. Most of my artwork will be on display Father’s Day weekend at Teich & McColgan Daylilies & Hostas, next to Peace Valley Winery. See you there!

First, I want to say thank you to all of those who have supported us through the years and have participated in this ministry. May God bless you! I am sorry if any of you feel I have not said that enough. It is at the end of most, but not all blog entries on this blog.

Second, we will be serving meals in the park this Thursday and next Thursday, May 7, will be our last, due to lack of support from the church.

Third, I was just told to “stop playing the victim!” I am sorry, but I am not playing. I really do suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from being bullied by clergy, Orthodox, Protestant & Anabaptist. Most recently this has caused churches to be ashamed of me and this ministry, even though I have been told by two Orthodox Bishops and several Orthodox Priests to not shut up and to not give in to bullies, even if they are priests or bishops! Clergy are not infallible. We are in foreclosure again because of sickness and stresses of this ministry and the slowness of the Social Security Administration. I honestly identify with and empathize with the people on the street. I have been regularly attacked for this in the press, by city administrations, by pastors, by fellow church goers.

Jesus identified with the poor and outcast. So I still think I’m in good company. I will continue to serve as I can. I don’t know what that will look like. But I need to find more likeminded people who aren’t ashamed to be seen with me. In other words, I need someone to minister to me like I have ministered among the homeless for over 26 years.

Peace, Cranford

Closing our doors

I am once again totally underwhelmed by the response to the last two articles about Rashawn & Diamond. The first one was shared 40 times and 6 donors came forward with not enough to cover it. So far, we have received  $100 toward next month, with 12 days to go. The ministry as a whole is operating at a deficit. We won’t be able to get all the ingredients and paper products, and iced tea this week and pay the cell phone bill. I had hoped for new leadership by now, and a new, more upbeat, public face, to do fundraising. That doesn’t seem to be happening. People have suggested ways to raise money, and I say, go ahead. Nothing happens. There are a few people who are doing a great job to help provide great meals on Thursday nights with fruits and peanuts and sandwiches, hard boiled eggs and coming out. That’s great! There is so much more. To keep it going takes money. To raise money, we need people who understand and can clearly articulate the vision of The King’s Jubilee. That hasn’t happened. I have failed as a leader.

As a family, we are racing with the calendar to not end up homeless ourselves. I applied for disability in July 2013. It is just coming through now. There is a 5 month, no income waiting period and a 25% lawyer’s cut. Plus the SS Admin. takes their sweet time. Then they want to know exactly what you were living on while you were waiting, so they can deduct that from the amount that they are going to pay. Is it any wonder there are so many old and disabled folks who end up homeless? We are not out of the woods yet. The mortgage company has started foreclosure proceedings. It just comes to a point where I have to face facts. The prima facie evidence is that what I have done with my life is not valued by society or the church. I am turning 60 in two months. I have had 6 strokes and about 40 TIAs. I have Complex PTSD from clergy bullying. (To add major insult to injury, I have just learned that there are Orthodox churches who refuse to associate or support this ministry because I suffer from CPTSD from clergy abuse. OK. Further abuse the victim and the ones he is ministering to! That makes complete sense, if you don’t believe a word that Jesus ever said!) This all adds up to constant pain and permanent disability. Perhaps it’s time I grow up and face reality and hang it up. I don’t even know if we can afford to do that.

Bitter Cold on the Streets of Philadelphia

On the last couple of Thursdays, volunteers have called me to see if we were still going out to serve, since it was Code Blue in the city. I explained on each occasion that, yes, we would be going. Many of the people we serve are not fully homeless. They live in rented rooms, but have no place to prepare food. Some of them have to choose between rent and food for the month or week. Many we serve are the hardcore of the homeless who refuse to go in to shelters due to fear for their own safety or fear of being picked up on an old bench warrant, or just not wanting to admit that they are that homeless and dependent. Then there is the cold, hard truth, that even with the expanded capacity and outreach of Code Blue, there isn’t enough space for everyone to come in from out of the cold.

It’s a sad state of affairs. There are lots of heated, vacant spaces, if we only had more compassion. Train conductors used to be allowed to look the other way and let homeless ride and sleep on the subway all night, maybe without collecting a fare. Now there are cameras and they’d lose their jobs. The trains are running. It costs nothing more. It hurts nobody. It saves lives. We all descended from poor and homeless people at some point. Now we are afraid of them, so we don’t let them ride.

Those of us serving were well bundled up with layers. We served about 50 people. I thank God we had blankets and new socks and some clothing to give away. We served hot, thick hamburger and cabbage soup, spicy tagine, spaghetti, and hot chocolate, along with our usual complement of fruits, eggs, sandwiches, etc. We gave just about everything away! Somebody even left a huge bag of foil wrapped chocolate coins on our front step along with a cash donation. It was a joy to share those as a special treat on such a cold night. The cash helped someone stay out of the cold in a room. We were freezing and so ready to get back into cars with heat, by the time we left, 45 minutes after we arrived. My hands are still cold and stiff more than 12 hours later, even though I was wearing gloves the whole time (since they got frostbit in 1969). But we got to go home to heat and basically unlimited hot water, coffee, microwaves, tea, etc. We left these people, our brothers and sisters, on the street to try to survive more sub-zero, windy, Code Blue days and nights in a city whose main concern is that they not be seen in public.

May God forgive us.



Watch This Space!

Make sure to follow us on Facebook or keep checking back on this blog. Some little and some really big changes are going to be happening over the next year at The King’s Jubilee. My Russian teacher in high school once told me that I had a mind like an iron vice, after the light went on after he explained prepositions to me for the 6th time and I finally had them mastered. Three years later I figured out he was giving me what was known as a “left-handed compliment.” In other words, I can be slow on the uptake sometimes, but once I’ve got it, I’ve got it.

As I implied in a previous post, it is time for me to stop getting in my own way and let some fresh leadership step up to take TKJ forward. I’ll be happy to keep cooking soup and serving hot sauce and riding shot gun to the city and talking to the people on the street for as long as I am able. I just am not going to be responsible for coordinating, fundraising, supervising (like I supervise!), etc.

There will be a new face or faces of The King’s Jubilee. This has been too long in coming. I am sorry. It has been due to my own lack of faith and my trust issues due to CPTSD from clergy abuse that has made this so hard for me to do. In the next couple of days, the new president of TKJ will introduce herself on this blog. We hope to accomplish more to eliminate homelessness in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.  We will continue to advocate for the visible and invisible poor and oppressed in our society. We will continue to do direct acts of charity to see the face of ourselves, or perhaps even of Jesus Himself, in those among whom we serve.

Our mission has just begun. Please pray for us as we make our way forward. To better times and expanded services! Thank you for your support. We can only do this as you give. We receive no government or corporate support. May God bless you as you give and as you pray and remember the poor.



Tonight’s Meal

Love Pack
Love Pack

Just because I said on Tuesday that we did not have the resources for Thursday night’s meal, does not mean we are not serving Thursday night’s meal. It just means somethings got to happen to make this possible. Not only are we serving a meal; we are serving a feast! I am making a turkey soup with beef broth. Miss April is making a vegan side and buttery cabbage and pasta side. Holy Annunciation are bringing peanuts, eggs, oranges, bananas, and pastries. Pennridge South Middle School are bringing blankets and “Love Packs” with toiletry items and snacks & water for later. Bob is bringing bags of socks. Esther is bringing spaghetti. I’m bringing iced tea, hot sauce, salt and pepper!

I forgot to mention sandwiches! I don’t remember who all are bringing sandwiches, but we will have plenty, so people will have enough for a late night snack or breakfast or lunch tomorrow.

Thank you, people, for coming through again!

Thank God!



Moroccan Style Rice

This is the vegan dish that I mentioned a few posts ago that Miss April made for us to serve on the street, which delighted our South African friend so much. A few of our readers asked for the recipe, so here it is.

Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 Very large Spanish Onions
  • 12 oz. Apricots – chopped
  • 1 box of raisins
  • 2 bunches fresh Cilantro
  • 2 bunches fresh Parsley
  • 1½ cups Wild Rice
  • 2 lb. Basmati Rice
  • 3 Tablespoons Turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 lb. Carrots – sliced
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt

Cook rice. Chop onion, parsley and cilantro fine in food processor. Sauté with spices in olive oil. Toss everything together in a turkey roasting pan. We slow cooked it at 200º or 250º until it was time to leave for the city. It basically needs to be baked until the carrots soften.

This recipe makes a large turkey roasting pan full.



A South African Smile

The other week, Miss April made Moroccan Rice as the vegetarian alternative. One of our regular customers is a well-spoken, South African man. He truly appreciated this dish. He told me it reminded him of home, because, you see, Morocco, in north Africa, has the same climate as South Africa, being about the same distance away from the equator. They share a lot of the same ingredients in their cuisines; and borrow many recipes back and forth, as a result. I am always happy to learn new things and to make connections with food. This really tickled him that we had served this. He asked if I was of African descent. This is the first time in my life I have been asked this question. (He has very dark skin. ) I said No, but we just like to draw on all different backgrounds for ideas in cooking, and that our daughter, April, is especially adventuresome.

He asked me if I used African recipes,  as well, at times, because they tasted quite tasty and familiar. I laughed. I told him that I never follow recipes. I just write them, but I use a lot of African root vegetables and spices from South Africa and India. He thanked us again for taking such care in making excellent food every week. He said, it gave them something to look forward to for Thursday nights.

A big thank you to everyone who makes this possible! God bless you!