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!

Pariah

"If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find Him in the chalice." - St. John Chrysostom

Sorry, I am removing any and all endorsements from the 12 Baskets group. They have told me they don’t want to be associated with me in any way shape or form, even though none of them would have gotten involved on the street had it not been for me introducing them to it and being there constantly. They say I have been cantankerous and argumentative. Of course, the person saying that to me has been extremely cantankerous and argumentative to me, and has not been on the street that much.

I have never said I am not cantankerous. I can be. I don’t know of a single person who has been at this as long as I have who isn’t at times. It is damned hard to live at below poverty standards and keep going while pastors continue to abuse you and bishops lie and abuse you and feel threatened in their lifestyle, because the pittance you want for the homeless may cut into the grandeur of their banquets and not be considered an irritant!

I am finally quitting, because I am bankrupt after 26-1/2 years serving on the street. Some of these people who are saying these nasty things, just two weeks ago were flattering me and saying how they couldn’t do this. Then, as soon as I was quitting, it was all about how they could do it easy, because of how rich they are. They despise me because of my poverty! This is exactly what makes them unsuited for this ministry!

We are about to lose our house. No one gives a shit!
I have extreme depression and CPTSD because of CLERGY ABUSE! No one gives a shit! (Perhaps this is why I am cantankerous?)
I gave up a lucrative career to serve the poor. My children and grandchildren are wonderful, happy children, largely as a result. Thousands of inmates and poor received some hope and joy and unconditional friendship. Hundreds received HS GEDs. Hundreds learned English as a second language. A couple received their Bachelor’s degree. One graduated as a nurse Cum Laude. One became a prison chaplain. Others got their families together, etc. That’s among the homeless and inmates. Then, among our volunteers; Several found their callings to be doctors and medical missionaries and counselors and priests and nurses or to serve the homeless in other cities, while they were serving with us, because I stuck by the stuff. No one gives a shit!

I went through the court case with no support from any of these people or the church, in tears for months, in order to continue serving in the parks. No one gives a shit!

I was trying to be magnanimous. I gave my cooking gear and supplies to 12 Baskets, even while I was hearing negative comments, then it went beyond the pale.

I am a throwaway. I am a difficult person. Never mind the sociopathic priests or the bishops who refuse to deal with them and just hang up on me. Never mind the pastor who threatened to kill me. He got to keep his salary. He was the right nationality. I can just go to hell. I can’t go to church without risking a stroke. But I am “playing the victim” to say this!

Yesterday, I brought a week’s rent down to a couple, only to find out today that Social Security lost our documentation for expediting back disability pay. This means, we are likely to lose our house. This is why I quit. I was just too tired of begging to people who didn’t give a damn. All they care about is their warped view of Matthew 25. Here is a news flash. If you are serving the homeless to get into heaven, it won’t work! You can’t buy your way into heaven. Everyone is surprised at the Judgment. That is the point of that story. Judge no one. Muslims or atheists may enter before you. No one can con God. If you are doing this to earn points with God, the people can smell that on you, and it stinks to high heaven of self-righteousness. You may as well stay home.

You need to serve the poor because it is the right thing to do and because you enjoy doing it. The McGraws understand this and are faithful, loving people, with more patience than me. I am really glad that 12 Baskets is taking up this work and pray that God will bless and strengthen their hands and hearts and provide them with every good thing to continue to provide for my friends for many years! I guess I am blessing them after all. God chooses the foolish things to confound the wise. If God could use me, He can certainly use them.

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

To make a real difference costs more than a meal a week.

I can’t express how disappointed I am with how little we have accomplished at The King’s Jubilee. We have been at it for over 26 years. By this time we had hoped to have made street side serving of meals unnecessary, because we had played a major role in ending homelessness in Philadelphia. Instead, we can count on two hands the number of people we have had a large part in making the transition off the street and perhaps 100 more to whom we gave some little bit of help through the years move off the street. I know this is not standard fundraising procedure. Most ministries speak very glowingly and, as we used to say, “evangelastically” about their accomplishments to garner support. We can only do what we have resources to do. It is that simple. Somehow I expected the church to get behind work like this, whichever church, and for pastors to invite and to recommend participation and support. Through the years, that has rarely happened. I have gotten more jealousy, abuse, and invitations to leave churches from pastors, because of this ministry. Yet, none of them has been able to say that what I am doing or teaching is wrong.

Now, I need you to get over your distaste for my honesty and help save some lives! 

A few weeks ago, I posted an appeal to help save “Rashawn’s Diamond”. Diamond recently was hospitalized with tuberculosis and walking pneumonia. After a couple of days in ICU and the rest of the week on the respiratory care floor, she was released back onto the street. She and her husband, Rashawn, were able to spend nights in one of two shelters in the city that allow married couples to stay together. Daytimes were still rough, lugging all of their stuff around in the horrible weather. They are little people. Rashawn is disabled due to his dwarfism, so the type and amount of work he can get is limited. We were only able to raise $301 toward what we thought was going to be $500 for the month for rent. We kicked in an additional $249 to make up the difference and provide for some food. We knew that they owed this SRO hotel $230 from the last time they had stayed there. I had hoped we would raise the whole amount, since it was Great Lent. For most people in Montgomery and Bucks Counties the extra $230 is not that much, maybe a ski outing with the kids, or a dinner out at Wm. Penn Inn or Maize. At any rate, a pastor of a poor, storefront church, who works at a secular job, came up with the difference. We had a hard time making connection with him. Rashawn & Diamond came home with me on Thursday night and slept in our little living room, with the cats. We all had a good breakfast of bacon and eggs. Diamond took delight in cutting and sharing a pink grapefruit with Rashawn. They have talked to me everyday since to remind me to hug the cats for them, and named us honorary grandparents. We are not old enough for that, but, you know, it’s hard to judge with us white people.

Because it took an extra day to get the money, all of the cheaper rooms were taken for the month, plus the management raised the rent on all the rooms by $100, so the rent for their room ended up being $700, but they don’t have to walk down the hall for the bathroom. I stayed until I was sure they were getting in. I felt like I was in a scene from a bad detective movie from the early 1970s, except there was an Obama2012.com bumper sticker on the front desk window. in front of the extremely rude, young black man who was hollering at Diamond that “No you can’t try before you buy! All the rooms look alike! It’s first come first serve! If you don’t take it, someone else will!” I was tempted to try to gently remind him that he was in the “hospitality” industry, but I didn’t want to end up on the 6 o’clock news: “Lifelong homeless minister gunned down at the Blue Moon Hotel this afternoon in an altercation with hotel staff, along with two dwarves. Shooter claims self-defense.” It was definitely a new experience for me. It is disappointing to me that such places exist and are in such demand. Rashawn and Diamond are glad to be there. It is out of the cold and damp. They have a bed and a shower and a TV. They don’t have to make a major plan to find a toilet.

$700 a month is more than we usually raise for the whole ministry. People spend a lot on food and cups and such. I understand that. There is more to this ministry than Thursday night. There always has been. Yet when I say we need money, it doesn’t seem to sink in most of the time. I want to help these people. I have known Rashawn for over 20 years. He is a straight arrow. He works whenever and wherever he can. Diamond needs to be off the street in order to live. They were on the verge of getting a place once before. They are in line to get a place now; just a couple more steps. They need a reliable address and good phone reception to be able to complete the process and to apply for the other benefits they need. This is a major flaw in the so-called safety net. Once one has fallen through to the point of homelessness, one needs a boost up just to get hold of the net again. If I could, I would just write a check. I can’t even pay my own mortgage or utility bills. We’re on SNAP and Medicaid, because what I do is worthless to the church. I’m alive. Diamond will die if she has to live outdoors. Take a true pro-life action. Save a beautiful life! Give using the donate button below and everything given will go to help Diamond & Rashawn transition off the street into permanent housing.

May God bless you!

dayliliesinwinterThe artwork featured above is: Remembrance of Summers Future & Past
The same plant in two seasons. The bare sticks poking through the snow reminding us of the past and future glory. This is what Holy Week and Pascha are about. It is not just a commemoration of past events. We are remembering the coming in glory of the Kingdom of God! This is Spring Revival Time! It is time to shake off the doldrums, renew our almsgiving and re-energize for action, so that it may be done on “earth as it is in heaven.”
This art piece is available in a strictly limited edition signed by the artist, me, museum quality printed on canvas and framed in a handcrafted frame designed for this piece. The art is 13″ x 7″ plus frame. Call 267-497-0268 for pricing, etc.
Summer is our busiest time at The King’s Jubilee.

Pray and give to save Rashawn’s Diamond

I have known Rashawn for over 20 years. He suffers from dwarfism, yet I have rarely seen him with a negative attitude. He works hard whenever he can get work. He always has a plan for the future. I have never seen him drunk or high. He is known to be a reliable man. Life keeps knocking him down. He is trying to take care of his wife, Alice, who he calls Diamond. She is a beautiful, cheerful, African-American woman who is always thankful for every little blessing that comes their way. This has been a rough winter. There has not always been enough money to rent a room. The shelters don’t let people stay in during the days. There has not always been enough room in the shelters. We have not had enough money to make up the shortfall to provide rent for them. They had been working with a social worker and were on the verge of moving into a house last November. The social worker’s mother died. She went to France to bury her mother. The agency did not transfer their case intact to another social worker. They had to start the months long process all over.

All of this made for a bad situation, leaving Rashawn and Diamond out in the cold for some of the wettest, winter nights of the year. Diamond got walking pneumonia and TB. She spent a few days in ICU and a few days recovering with oxygen on a regular floor at Hahnemann, then they released her back onto the street, still coughing, during Code Blue weather. May God have mercy on us!

Many of the private shelters, including the one they have been staying at (because they can stay there as a couple) will be closing on April 1. That’s less than a week away.

I know we can’t save everybody we meet or intervene in every bad situation, but we can do this. At The King’s Jubilee, we have never had the institutional approach, that, if we can’t do it for everybody, we should do it for nobody. No. We have the attitude of “the starfish thrower” who when she was told that it was futile to throw the beached starfish back into the sea, because they were too numerous. How could she possibly make a difference? She replied, “It will make a difference for this starfish!” as she flung one more out, saving its life.

Rashawn and Diamond need $500 for one month’s rent to get a running start through the iffy weather of spring. This way, Diamond has a real shot at recovery. Frankly, I don’t understand why this is not covered as part of Medicaid. It is far cheaper than a return visit to the hospital. At any rate, we can do this. Rashawn and Diamond would be most grateful and they also deeply covet your prayers. (Rashawn’s Christian name is Jose’.)

P.S.  We paid for over two months of their rent, even though less than that was designated for their support. They did join us for Memorial Day picnic. When I took them back, they were very upset because they did not have rent. They did not tell us this ahead of time. I told them I did not have money. Diamond got very upset. She started to call and accuse me of all sorts of all sorts of false things. Anthony answered the phone, since I was driving. He could not believe what she was saying. He has known me for many years and was at our house for the weekend. She began texting all sorts of accusations that we had not given them all the money that had come in for rent, etc. We paid the next month’s rent despite the accusations, even though none of the money was designated for them. We decided to go the second mile. A few weeks later they asked if they could store five bags of their things in our barn. We said OK and arranged for Uncle John to pick it up from their place on his way home from work.

When John arrived at our place, I went outside and found they had come home with him, expecting to stay with us. They had just not said anything to him and climbed into his car. They had never asked me if they could stay with me. They had accused me of all sorts of awful things the last time they were here for a picnic. We had helped them in spite of their behavior with another $600 rent and $20 cash. It was close to midnight. There was no room. Bethann would have been very upset if she woke up to find them here. I was ballistic. I have never in all my years seen such gall and such deception! I gave them 10 minutes to put their bags in the barn and get off my property before I called the police for trespass. They called John. John gave them a ride to the train station to get a ride to Philadelphia.

Now they are texting me with a threat of suing me for not giving me all the money I raised for them. They are delusional and evil. Rashawn, as it turns out, has been offered housing through an agency in Phila., which he turned down in order to stay at the hotel without inspection with Alice Diamond Robinson.

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.



So Much Pain

I know I should be posting more often and being more positive. I also know I probably shouldn’t talk so much about myself. It seems so many people focus on me when they consider giving to The King’s Jubilee, which is really ridiculous, since I obviously haven’t benefited by doing this. We are in danger of foreclosure again, yet the ministry has been paying a helper’s rent. The priority is always on helping people get off and stay off of the street.

The truth of the matter is since June of 2012, I have had constant, severe pain in my lower spine. Because of my migraines and strokes, none of the doctors paid any attention to this. I thought they had looked at it and determined there was nothing to do about it, except pain control. Here they had never looked at that part of my spine. Now, I am a white man, living in the suburbs. I had good insurance at the time, yet still I ended up with this miserable oversight. Even with pain meds and a comfortable chair and bed and heated home, I have constant tears from pain. What if I were a homeless, black woman, without insurance going through this? I doubt I could have survived (or would have wanted to). I guess this is part of what keeps me going. Even at my lowest moments, I have so much more than those we serve.

This month marks the completion of the 26th year of service of The King’s Jubilee. We had always hoped to do so much more. We have spun off ministries that have gone on to be bigger and better than ours, so that is something. At this point, it is looking like it is time to either close TKJ or spin it off to younger leadership. We do not even have the resources for this week’s meal. The TKJ-mobile is two months out of inspection. I have no credit left. People don’t give because they don’t like me. So it is obvious I need to be the scapegoat and step aside or this ministry is dead. I did speak to a young lady about this a couple of years ago, but she recently was married and had a child, so I don’t know. She has the right stuff.  Please pray for us. Please give, knowing it goes to serve the homeless and poor. We serve with dignity, respect and joy, in other words, in Jesus’ Name.



My Wildest Dreams

I started to put together a wish list before Christmas, but everything takes so much longer for me these days. Plus, it just didn’t feel right, you know, my mother’s voice in my head is a powerful thing. We were taught never to ask for what we wanted for Christmas or birthdays, but to be surprised and grateful for whatever we received. Of course, in my eyes, my mom was the best gift giver ever! She was so in tune with what I liked. Only one time did she buy me something I did not like. It turns out, she did not like it either, but she did it because of my joining an ultra-conservative Baptist church. It was a perfectly hideous, dark blue, sharkskin suit. She was so happy when I wanted to exchange it.

At any rate, this is for the ministry. At this point, we need everything if we are going to continue. Next month will mark the completion of our 26th year in ministry. There was a time about 18 years ago, we had a couple of men who had been involved in military logistics and procurement. They had peculiar gifts for locating and bargaining for whatever one needed and wanted to donate their skills to TKJ. I put the word out to some of the ministries in the city and told them to give us their wish lists including their wildest and craziest desires. Rev. Ora Love giggled and asked, “Really? Can I get an electric golf cart?” Within a week, we delivered an electric golf cart to her office in Richard Allen Homes for her to cart around her books for the GED and literacy classes. So now, I am going to share with you all of my wild and crazy wish list. I will further preface this by saying that, if you know how we have lived for the last 30 years, you will know that our house is a staging area for the ministry. Bags and boxes of clothes or cups or stacks of blankets may be found in our living room or kitchen at any given time. Our barn is filled with furniture waiting to go to people moving off the street. The office for the ministry is in what would be the dining room.

So here goes:

  • $1,450/month more in monthly pledges. We currently have $550/month. The smallest is $5. The largest is $120. Whatever is comfortable for you: Paypal, recurring debit from credit union or bank, check by mail. This would allow us to be secure in ministry, and expand services.
  • IMMEDIATE NEED: Four months mortgage payments & late fees to avoid foreclosure, so The King’s Jubilee doesn’t lose it’s base of operations. $6,000
  • Work crews to finish the barn; as well as some of the building materials. Our barn was to be our office and storage area for the pantry, as well as the prep kitchen for Thursday nights. We have a lot done. Then I got hospitalized with infections, then strokes and migraines and the infection ate into my spine, etc., leaving me disabled. This would help multiply the ministry both in Philadelphia and in the Bucks-Mont area.
  • Nissan Taxi. The TKJ mobile is 10-1/2 years old. It still works well. We find that we are cramped most of the time. The Nissan Taxi or that sized Nissan van with five passengers and luggage behind would be ideal for our hauling needs for the nights we serve and for helping set up new households, when people move off the street. We don’t know the price or even if Nissan is able to sell us one. 😉 I have stopped in to talk to them, because the proper time to shop for a new car is always when one can’t even afford to fill the gas tank.
  • IMMEDIATE NEED: Money to inspect the TKJ-mobile, which probably means new tires. It is out of inspection now. So we are counting on the police not noticing. The last two weeks meals were paid for partly by what little bit of credit we have left on a Visa card.
  • Drivers. I can’t drive at night, due to damage done from strokes. We have a few. At times, they are all busy with work, or ill, and I have to scramble. It helps if you are a somewhat aggressive driver and are comfortable with city driving, have an eclectic taste in music and a good sense of humor.
  • Friends. One would think this would not need explaining. Alas, it does. Jesus said, “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” You don’t find one by just sitting next to one at church. Paul clarified in Ephesians 4 that we grow together when we go out into the world and do actual works of service together.

PedroThank you for whatever you can do to help fulfill my wildest dreams. They are all to serve the poor and homeless in Jesus’ Name, which means according to his will, with dignity and respect.

By the way, if we get the taxi, it will be painted orange with The King’s Jubilee stickers on it and no taxi sign.



Writer’s Block / Depression

It’s been over a month since our 25th anniversary banquet. I have been trying to write a post about that and have made several attempts. I get to the fifth line and get stuck. It was a great evening. Rev. Bec Cranford-Smith did a great job delivering the keynote message. I know I forgot several things, which is probably a good thing, since I droned on long enough. We forgot to put out the leftover boxes for people to take extras home with them. There were plenty! I was disappointed by those who could not make it, but that did not detract at all from the joy of the company of those who did. For me personally, it was great to finally meet, in person, Bec Cranford- Smith. We had different stories of how we found each other on the web. It was obviously meant to be. We have been encouragement to each other in ministry. We have more than a name in common. We share the same zeal to serve the poor and disenfranchised; to go outside the camp to meet Jesus.

banquet1 banquet2 banquet3 banquet4 banquet5 banquet6 banquet8 banquet9 banquet10 banquet11 banquet12 banquet13 banquet15 banquet16 banquet17 banquet18 banquet19 banquet20 banquet21 banquet22 banquet23 banquet24 banquet25 banquet26 banquet27 banquet28 banquet29 banquet30 banquet31 banquet32 banquet33 banquet34 banquet35 banquet 7The last post on this blog was a nearly impossible quiz taken from the last 25 years of The King’s Jubilee. Some of the questions are light-hearted; others, not so much. I was the only one there who knew the answers to all of them. That fact is unsettling to me. Through the years, I have been on a quest, looking for the Church that Jesus established, that had authority and understood accountability. Through the years, churches kept ordaining me. I never asked for it. Let’s be real. The Episcopalian bishop ordained me to the priesthood at my infant baptism! I was ordained in absentia by proxy in a Pentecostal Holiness church I had never attended! So as I was making this journey, volunteers, friends and supporters would fall away and new ones would take their places in each different denomination. To further hinder things on the friendship and support side, I have spent most of my time and energy with inmates, ex-offenders, poor, and homeless people. So many times when I see a familiar face, I’m not sure if I met them in one of the many churches I have been to, or in one of the many prisons I have served in. If I’m looking puzzled at you, please help me out. I’ve had six or more strokes, so there are gaps in the memory. So, back on track. It is unsettling to me, because so many Christians are willing to drop you like a dead fish, if you are no longer in their denomination or parish or jurisdiction. It doesn’t matter that I have kept doing the same thing in the same way for over 25 years. It doesn’t seem to matter that we could do so much more for the poor and homeless if we had more people involved and supporting. What matters is, I left their church. They will sooner do nothing or give to secular agencies or people they don’t know at all. They will sooner give to agencies that spend a lot of money on literature and marketing and administration and overhead, because it looks like something substantial. Jesus didn’t look like anything substantial. He had “nowhere to lay his head.”

I thought I had found the church founded by Jesus Christ in the Orthodox Church. It was great under the former metropolitan and the former priest in our parish. It seemed like there was accountability and obedience and give and take in the assemblies. Then Fr. Noah came and the first thing he said to me is to put me down, even before he knew me. He felt it was his duty to humiliate parishioners. But Paul told Timothy to build up not to tear down. Then came the intentional, hurtful lies, where he lied about what Fr. Boniface supposedly said something hurtful about me to him. Fr. Boniface is my best friend in the world and he would never do that. I knew that, so this was very hurtful, in that I knew that this was cold and calculating from Fr. Noah. Then came the irrational outbursts in church over stupid little stuff. I went to the bishop. Fr. Boniface was supposed to oversee a reconciliation. It amounted to I was the one who had to suck it up. Meanwhile Fr. Noah continued to lie, continued to torment, never confessed or admitted that lying was even wrong. He said, “I can’t believe you would be upset over such a little lie.” I replied, “What upset me was just that, that you went to so much trouble to go out of your way to lie about such a little thing!” In Myron’s funeral message, he boasted that he lied to Myron to get him to the hospital when he was having a stroke. Now, instead of one of all the experiences that he could have shared that would have highlighted Myron’s good works, he chose to share this in front of our grandchildren! They came away confused. The priest just said it is OK to lie. We are Orthodox! We do not have a Jesuit ethic! If you are a true pastor, you have enough spiritual authority with your people you have no need to lie!

So Bethann wrote to Fr. Noah & Bishop Thomas. No response, except Fr. Noah quit speaking to or meeting eyes with Bethann. I emailed and called Bishop Thomas.  He did not call or email back. Instead I received a call from an archdeacon and we played phone tag for a week. Then he stopped calling back. The only thing he has said to me is, “This is not a good time to talk. Can you call me back tomorrow?” I let it sit for weeks, then I called him back again, since he never called me back. This is how the bishop handles us! I get ahold of him. He thinks he talked to me already. Nope.  He asked me what was it about, so I told him. He said he would have to check his notes when he got home, but he thought he had talked with me. I said the only thing he had said was, “This isn’t a good time. Can you call back tomorrow?” He never called back. I called Bishop Thomas and told him how his archdeacon apparently cared about as much about me and him as he cared about me. He said he wasn’t his archdeacon. I asked him one simple question: “Did you tell Fr. Noah he was not to speak to me?”

Bishop Thomas was speaking while I was asking the question, then hung up on me. This is what passes for oversight and pastoral care in the Orthodox Church.

Once again, I and my family are expendable. We don’t deserve respect or answers or to be treated civilly. We get abused and thrown under the bus. But I am not supposed to publish this. I am supposed to sit quietly by. Even though I have been told by a couple of archpriests to speak up and expose the bullies. Everything about the anti-bully  and anti-sociopath movement says to speak up and expose them. Prophet Nathan said publicly to King David, “Thou art the man!” When I came to Orthodoxy, I felt confident that I was not joining an independent Baptist church with a egomaniac, tin horn dictator for a pastor who is accountable to no one. Effectively, that is what I have found. Like anywhere in America these days, you get what you pay for in US Dollars.

What a sham! What a shame!

We were the largest family at St. Philip’s, involved in everything, at every service. Happy to be there! Arrived early, left late, because we wanted to be there. Then Fr. Put-Down came with his legalism and guilt trips and his lies and his duties and burdens and demands for honor and his manipulation. No grace. Not an inkling of understanding of the Gospel of Grace. Always speaking, never listening. Fits of rage. None of us is happy to be there any more. I can’t be near Noah without risking another stroke, literally.

We love the people. The people are gifted, kind and generous. This is what I said in the last post where I wrote about this, as well. They are being mislead.

People will give me grief about this posting. Again, I will ask you: have I stopped serving the homeless? Have I lessened the quality of the food we give away? Ask the men and women we serve! Our food is nutritionally superior to anything else they are served during the week. I wish that were not the case. Ask Brownie about how we stood by him and his friends when they were on the street, when they were in prison, when they moved off the street, when they suffered loss. We serve for you in Jesus’ Name. That is, if you support us.

If you don’t want us to continue. If you want me to shrink away and die, because of some lying priest and cowardly bishop, well so be it! I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from this mistreatment from clergy here and prior. I have kidney disease and damaged spine (with continual pain) from complications from an infection picked up from the street. This, with the stress of the attacks from Noah and Mayor Nutter (with no moral support from the church) set off complex migraines, which caused several strokes, which have left me with photophobia, occasional word salad, and a continual risk of more strokes and further damage. This all caused my business to fail. So we have no regular income. Of what we do get, almost all goes to the homeless. I’m still waiting for my hearing for SSDI. Bethann graduated top of her class from business school for medical administration and is looking for work.

Sorry this isn’t your sunshiny, hopeful, give $10 a month and you can save the world kind of post. I had to get this out of me before I could go on. People are hurting. Racism is real. There are many people who have no bootstraps by which to pull themselves up. Genocide in Gaza is real. It is brutal. It is paid for by US tax dollars. My eyes cry involuntarily 24/7. My therapist and I have talked about this. I told her I would like it to stop. We talked on a few occasions about this. She finally said to me that my crying was not irrational like most of her clients. I cry for the homeless, for genocide in Gaza, for the millions killed by US corporations polluting overseas, for the black men who police kill every 28 hours in this country, for the homeless, for the LGBT youth whose parents evict them, for the addicts who can’t get treatment, for the children forced into sex-slavery or soldiery, for the poor soldiers on all sides who are fighting for the interests of rich men, for battered women, for veterans’ wives and families trying to cope, for the lost boys of the Sudan, for Myanmar, for Iraq & Syria. Oh, to live in a world without news!

I care. I cry. I guess my tears are my unworthy form of intercession. I am not giving up! Our house is three months behind on mortgage again. I had to find a credit card we had paid off to pay to get the phones and internet back on yesterday. This Thursday will be the first time in 16 years that we will not give away dollar coins in honor of St. Nicholas on the first week of December, but we will be there with a hearty meal, God willing, to serve between 150 to 200 people, with panache!

If you want to be part of this, use the donate button or mail a check or give a call or email and see how you can get involved. If you don’t, I will move on and find a new set of friends.



I am full of life.

“Life is full of disappointments. Yes, and I am full of life,” the words to a John Gorka song, is what comes most readily to mind this week. I had to let go a house full of furniture for people because Uncle John’s truck broke down and I don’t have enough of a network of friends and supporters to call upon to get a replacement . We don’t have enough money to pay the bills, much less to rent a truck. I had hoped for The King’s Jubilee to be and to do so much more. And I had hoped to find the church of the New Testament. Somehow I thought these two goals would coalesce. Instead I find I cannot attend the Orthodox church that I moved closer to. The priest there will not talk to me. He lies, saying the bishop has ordered him not to, yet on the occasions when I do dare to go, he approaches me with saccharin sweetness as if nothing were wrong. This is a big show to discredit me in front of parishioners, after lying to me and about me and never confessing or repenting for one single offense. He is given his pulpit and I am told to shut up. He keeps oppressing the poor in the congregation and bullying any who disagree with him and the bishop stands with him, bullying us, too, by ignoring any cries for redress.

So, I guess Fr. Noah & Bishop Thomas may get what they apparently desire. I may have to shut down The King’s Jubilee. Who am I kidding? We have no church base. We have about $300/ month in pledges. It costs about $200 each week, plus we have to live. We have no income now. No one seems to care about this. There is no mutual care at the church. Someone asked me, when did Fr. Noah change his tune toward TKJ? And I looked back through correspondence. It was when I became sick and the business started to fail and we could not give as much to the church; when we became needy. This is his pattern. The money people generally don’t have serious problems with him. Of course, I’ve been told by numerous priests that he knows how to play it, because our bishops won’t make any changes until they are hit in the pocketbook. It’s all about money. I guess it is all about money. For lack of money, we will have to close or severely curtail the ministry.

Perhaps we haven’t found the true church, after all. Jesus said, “You will know a tree by its fruit.” I certainly haven’t seen a whole lot of good fruit in the Orthodox Church here in America: in-fighting, the priests who do serve the poor get grief from their parishes, three sociopathic priests in our area, spending more on entertainment than on mission, letting their own members become homeless faster than rescuing anonymous homeless. An older priest told me this week that “just such churches have produced many Saints.” I asked him how many atheists did they produce along the way as well. Persecution produces many Saints. Does that mean it is OK for the church to persecute, and the bishops should just sit back and do nothing? I was rebuked and unfriended by several priests for just posting James 5 without comment on-line. I was called a communist by Antiochian & OCA priests for James 5:1-9. God help us! No bishop corrects them. The lay people continue to be bullied. Ministries continue to be undermined.

I haven’t seen a whole lot of good fruit in the former USSR. Ukraine and Russia are at war with each other! Orthodox brethren! Georgia is killing and beating homosexuals & lesbians in Jesus’ Name?! Numerous border wars in the Balkans and Orthodox killing Muslims. Serbs and Romanians killing atheists. The beat goes on. Where is grace? Where is love? Where is faith? Where is God?

Jesus never said that we would recognize his disciples, and thus his church, by their genealogies and creed. He did say that we would recognize them by their love for one another (John13). Wealthy people standing next to people who are becoming homeless, without even considering altering their lifestyle to help, or not even caring enough to know their situation, is not love. This is the situation in most Orthodox churches I have seen, where the emphasis is on the service , the service, the service. Are we using the service to do what the service is for, to “prepare his people for works of service?” Orthodox theology says we go to heaven together and go to hell alone, but we all leave church alone. Churches hold so many services that there is no time left for people to visit in each other’s homes. The church is divided by class.

I have more than once been told, with a straight face, by priests, that their parishes could not afford to prevent their own people from becoming homeless. That would “overburden” them. I have been in some of their parishioner’s homes, or I should say palaces! Not an icon in sight, but repapered for the holiday season! James 5, communist indeed! People not obeying James 5 is what led to Bolshevism. “If the salt loses its flavor, wherewith shall it be salted?” Our parish let several families fall through the cracks, without an appeal, without anyone noticing, yet if someone passes out in a service, there are three to five doctors huddled around to determine whose specialty applies. They are not hard hearted people. They have lacked pastoral leadership and knowledge on this. We were on the verge of losing our homes, yet it was Uncle John & I who rescued a parishioner who was about to become homeless, after Fr. Noah and the parish council told him he had to quit selling his things in the parish hall. It was during Lent. It was the only way he had to raise gas money to get to and from church. I wasn’t there much. I happened to be there that Sunday & he pulled me aside.

He received no visits from the priest and no invitations for the holidays from anyone from church until I called the church (that I was not going to) and suggested it might be a good idea. Why did I expect them to care? My friend still did not have any money. What good was he to the church?

I don’t know if this church will produce any Saints, but I do know several atheists it has already produced out of cradle Orthodox under this priest.

So, once again, I am at a crossroads. Once again, I find myself at risk of losing many friends. I don’t feel at risk of losing much support, because there is not much to lose. I don’t know at this moment if I will have enough gas to get to and from the city tomorrow night. I get a lot of Attaboys & Aren’t you specials, but they don’t keep the car running or buy meat for the soups or veggies for the vegetarian dishes or help any of the guys with their rent when they’re a few bucks shy.

Sorry. I looked for the church for 30 years and thought I had found it. Now I find no accountability. The Orthodox parish is just like an independent Baptist church with a tin horn dictator pastor, because the bishop doesn’t feel like doing his job. I am expendable. The homeless are expendable. The Antiochian Church has basically told us to go to hell. Somehow, I think our ragtag bunch may be on our way in the Kingdom together, because I am very much in hell alone when at church. To people who have not suffered psychopathic abuse from clergy this sounds like blasphemy, but to the millions of us who have, it has the solid ring of freedom.

Once again, I am in dire need of doing some real making nice and solid fund raising, because we may not last another week. Do you people not understand? I haven’t been doing this kind of front lines ministry for nearly 30 years because I am a hireling who is just going to dance to your flute while you lie to my face and play church for a paycheck. We are not talking about fancy paintings and golden chalices. Lives are on the line, living icons of Christ! And you don’t care. You keep playing church under your gold plated dome.

Fr. Noah was told by Bishop Thomas to keep supporting The King’s Jubilee. He has done his best to remove all support from St. Philip’s for The King’s Jubilee. The church only supports local agencies (I will not call them ministries, because some of them treat the poor horribly.) where they can get credit locally, i.e., “Sound the trumpet as the Pharisees do.” He told me (through my daughter) that the bishop told him he was not allowed to speak to me. The bishop never informed me or Fr. Boniface of this bizarre instruction. (Fr. Boniface is supposed to be overseeing our reconciliation.) Yet when I go to St. Philip’s when he is there, say for a Baptism or Christmas, Noah makes a big , public show of greeting me. That is when I fail to see him on time so I don’t run. I ended up with a migraine with stroke like symptoms for three days over Christmas that started immediately when he touched my arm. Now he is either lying about what the bishop said, or he is disobeying the bishop when he is talking to me at church. He can’t have it both ways. In August, my wife wrote him an angry letter. For over a month he did not answer her or speak a word to her,  her priest! He sent Fr. Boniface to repeat his lying excuses after more than a month! And, of course, it was all my wife’s misunderstanding. Sure thing. That’s why Noah hasn’t looked her in the eye for a month.

So yes I am angry. And No I don’t like the idea of any of my family going to St. Philip’s, a place I used to love. It is ruled by a lying psychopath with no oversight from the bishop. He abuses the altar boys including his own sons. He abuses the subdeacons and deacon. He makes capricious changes in the middle of the services. He once stepped out of the altar at the height of the Liturgy to tell me that I was distracting him in the back of the choir, because I had my hands in my pockets! I told him he should get hold of himself and work on his concentration. He had to work to see me all the way back there around the iconostas and all; freaked me out.

I’ll catch hell for posting this. But, the bishop doesn’t check in. If I am to believe Fr. Noah, Bishop Thomas gave him an awful stupid order, to tell a priest to not talk to a parishioner, but just send nasty messages through his relatives and other priests? I don’t think Bishop Thomas is the sharpest tool in the shed, but I don’t think he’s that stupid. I think Noah is lying like he usually does. No one listens to me. Hardly anyone is giving to The King’s Jubilee. We used to get a good bit of support from St. Philip’s. Those people are mad at me for my attitude. They are still giving to support this psychopath, but they withdraw support to help the poor and homeless, because Noah abuses and lies about me! That makes perfect sense in a Republican sort of way. I have CPTSD because of his abuse and others like him, for which I am undergoing treatment. There is no known cure for psychopathy. A less harmful career path, which I have suggested to him would be real estate sales.

Somehow you think your withdrawal of support will bring me around to your way of thinking? If you punish the poor long enough on my account, I will see that you were right all along? Go ahead. Have your food fest. Use the public to pay for your temple! Soon you will have to raise more to pay taxes on it, too, as the public finally wakes up and remembers why the exemption was given and realizes churches don’t meet that qualification anymore. It had nothing to do with separation of church and state. It was the idea that churches provided services to the poor and needy that otherwise the state would have to provide, so a tax exemption was cheaper than providing those services. That is no longer true, by a long shot!

If I haven’t scared you off, you are definitely our kind of people. We have gone through changes before and the one constant has been our service among the poor and homeless. Please give. We don’t hold on to money and no one is getting rich. If there is ever any “extra”, it goes to fill someone else’s lack.