The Lady on the Basilica Steps

Ss. Peter and Paul Basilica

This article should just about write itself. It has all the elements to tug at the heartstrings like classic poverty porn. However, this is what has made it so hard for me to write. After more than 30 years writing newsletters and blog posts about the shocking way the poor, the disabled and the aged are treated in our country, it has gotten old. It has only gotten worse, with the government cuts to every kind of assistance and the general hardness of hearts in our society. It is just downright depressing.

Last Friday evening, Tony found a woman, about my age, lying on the Cathedral steps and invited her over to see what we had to offer. She was very timid. We had to invite her to accept each thing, some soup, pumpkin rice, hard boiled eggs, pie, etc. It was apparent that she could hardly speak due to stroke damage. She needed a better hat and a blanket. Susan found these for her. She had tears of gratitude as the hat was placed on her head and the thick blanket was wrapped round her shoulders. She shuffled as she walked and didn’t have full function of her hands. What a picture! She sleeps outside the Basilica. St. Basil founded a city for the poor with free hospitals and shelters funded by taxation on the rich! She sleeps in the cold on the steps of the Basilica! In one of the richest countries in the world, where we pay three times more per capita for healthcare than all but one other country, yet, somehow, we can’t afford to take care of the lady sleeping on the Basilica steps.

Perhaps she can qualify for Medicaid or public housing, or SSI. I don’t know. I do know that the process to get these benefits is anything but easy. I am a fully vocal person, with a place to store my records and a phone. It took months of back and forth and filling out forms to get Medicaid. It took years to get SSI after having six strokes, kidney failure, cPTSD, a summer of disabling migraines, my business failing, and almost losing my house to foreclosure. We are almost certainly going to lose it to foreclosure because they still have not paid the back benefit that they owe. So how does one who lacks speech, lacks confidence and sleeps on the steps of the Basilica with no phone and no safe place to keep her records follow through with that process? IMPOSSIBLE! The govt. made it this hard for two reasons: to keep out the riff-raff; and to necessitate lawyers to navigate the system. The problem is, the lawyers are the riff-raff, and it keeps out the most deserving of help.

Then there are so many who say, this is not the government’s job. It is the church’s job to help the poor. Did I mention that she is sleeping on the steps of the Basilica? These are the same steps that Tony McNeal, Director of The King’s Jubilee, used to sleep on at times, when he was homeless. Back then, there was a sexton (that’s the church word for janitor) who used to secretly let some homeless sleep on the pews inside. Tony would then assist in keeping the peace, and cleaning up afterward. This all had to be done on the down low. If the priest were to find out, the sexton would have lost his job and possibly been charged with criminal trespass. Then there’s the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in North Phila. who put razor wire around their vegetable and flower garden rather than trust God for how its fruits were distributed. That’s so welcoming to their church, now that it looks like a prison. So much for relying on the church.

In fact, as government assistance has gone down in recent years, so has church’ and non-profit orgs’ assistance to the needy gone down. It seems people’s politics spills over into their religion in America, not so much the other way around.

We are not some big agency. We are basically a couple of families and a rag tag band of poor people with hearts breaking for the poor and oppressed. We love to give other people’s stuff away for them, and cook wonderful, nutritious meals for people who need them, with dignity and respect. Everything you give will help us continue to do this. Please give until it stops hurting. You’ll feel better for it!

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

We are finally moved in.

Notice that our domain name is now For a while now, you have been able to get here by using this address. Now it is the main address. will still get you here by referral. This change will make things simpler. Our name is the same as our website. While we were making this change, we discovered that the site had been hacked. A friendly tech at Bluehost fixed the damage done by the hack and we added some precautions against being hacked again.

So update your bookmark and spread the word.

Lenten Almsgiving Flash Mob


Take a minute to wrap your head around this concept.

By now, we have all seen those YouTube videos of people breaking into song or dance in public spaces. They appear, seemingly out of nowhere, and bring some beauty and life into an otherwise monotonous commute in a train station or some such place. It has been done with orchestras, and boys’ choirs, and choirs, and ballet, and madrigals, etc.

Well, our friend, Charli Riggle, got the idea to put together almsgiving cash flash mobs. She and her husband Alex, like many of us these days, don’t have much to give. And many of us don’t necessarily have the talent to join in one of these beautiful flash mobs. And we have made friends in far flung places, so a physical flash mob is not feasible at any rate. So she came up with the idea and put a Facebook group together for almsgiving flash mobs. Together we can make a larger impact and really move some ministries along. Instead of just one drop, it’s many drops that fill a bucket.

So each Friday during the extended Lenten period, covering both western and eastern traditions, a different charity is chosen and each person in the group is encouraged to make a small donation to that charity. A different ministry in each region every week. The King’s Jubilee has been chosen for next Friday’s event. We will have a graphic that will get colored in and grow as more people participate. It is an exciting idea. We are honored to have been chosen. God bless you all.

Here is the link to the event: FRIDAY FLASH CASH II: The King’s Jubilee

Feel free to join in!


Facebook reaches 27,727

" 'Likes' without Paypal is DOA."


I posted this image on Facebook with the following caption:

This is what my granddaughters call a “make-a-wish.”
It is a giant salsify puff outside my front door.

We cannot serve people clicks, likes and shares. The phone company like to be paid in US dollars. The TKJ mobile needs real gasoline and oil. The virtual world is fun, but we need to make an impact in the real world with good old fashioned greenbacks, I’m afraid.
Thank you for the few who have already given and for those who may be in the process.
May God bless this “make-a-wish” and those who respond to it to bless this ministry to the poor and homeless in Jesus’ Name.

Within two hours, we received five Paypal donations and two promises of checks. Two of these were from first time donors. One person criticized the heavy handed tactic. I told him that desperate times called for desperate measures. People have been trying to settle me down for years. Please, I put this challenge out to you. Find a steady, reliable income stream to support and grow this ministry, and I will settle down. Any takers?

Just What the World Needs: another blog

That’s right I started another blog at This is not officially connected with The King’s Jubilee, as I don’t want to be hampered by the restrictions on free speech that are placed on religious, non-profit orgs. It is my personal blog for profit (hopefully), supported by ads and donations. If you like what you see, you can help pay for it.

For many years now, people have telling me I should write a book. For many years now, I have been threatening to take them up on it. Well the blog is what I am using to write not just one book, but four books that have been percolating in my careenium for some time now. It will also contain a few extraneous comments and an occasional entry from another blog.

The four books are:
Other People’s Children – The article about Rosalie above is an example of what this is about.
Why be Green and How – a Christian perspective on environmental stewardship with practical tips and recipes.
“If You Can Read …” – you can do almost anything: the confessions of a Renaissance man. This is a memoir of my forays into things I knew little about when I started and precious little more when I finished.
How to Throw a Wedding Without Breaking the Bank – This includes practical tips on courtship and marriage and how to have a memorable, meaningful celebration without going into debt to do it.

The blog website is also where you will find downloadable pictures of the parishioners and friends of St. Philip’s. To get into that section, you have to register and be approved. I will not give approval if you don’t have business being there.

So check it out. You can register and leave comments or make suggestions. Sooner or later, I hope to have these edited and published. I am already in conversation with a publisher for one of them.