This weekend is the annual Brookings Summer Arts Festival. It’s an opportunity to share all the best of our community as we welcome and offer hospitality to those who’ll find themselves wandering the stalls. They’ll fill our hotels and our restaurants, and hopefully see in this community what those of us who live here see.
But that is not all there is to our community, nor to those who visit/pass through. Multiple times each week someone is passing through the community who is struggling – struggling to eat, find a safe place to sleep, or just to get to their destination. When these folks find themselves in this place, they look for the churches to help.
We receive (amongst the many Brookings churches) quite a few people in need of help – and we help them. We help them through a program we call the “Ministerial Voucher” program. It’s short-term assistance for food, gas, or lodging to help with an immediate need. And over the course of a month, it’s not cheap – every food or gas voucher is $40, and a hotel stay is closer to $65.
In order to pay for this program, the churches which form the ministerial association donate from their offerings as well as hold events throughout the year – Thanksgiving worship, Lenten lunches, and worship at the Brookings Arts Festival. The offering/proceeds from these events goes directly to helping people in need.
The purpose in letting you know this is twofold: the first is to remind you that what you see in the community isn’t all that there is – and that many people are working to provide shelter and care for those in need; the second is to encourage you to attend the arts festival service on Sunday morning at 8:30 and give generously so that we can provide assistance where it’s needed.
This Sunday the text for many of our churches will be the Good Samaritan – it’s a text with beauty beyond the simple message of help. Within that story there is a call to provide care, not just to those who make you comfortable, but to any and all who are in need.
Through the voucher program, Brookings provides help and care to many, many people every year. It’s one more way this community shows its heart and beauty. Help us make that visible.