Be the Church

We don’t just go to church; we are the church. When there’s a need, the people of Evangelical & Reformed United Church of Christ put work clothes on their faith and do all they can to share the burden offering help and hope. The most recent example is our partnership with Richard’s Place, which provides housing and services to those living with HIV/AIDS in Waukesha County.

Richard’s Place isn’t new to us. For several years our youth have been preparing meals and delivering them to Richard’s Place as part of the Community Christmas Family Fun events. What is new is that when we learned that they had lost significant funding, Jamie Knoll sprang into action.  He made an appointment with the founder, Corrie Fulwiler, to visit Richard’s Place and learn about their predicament.

Richard’s Place, Inc. was founded in 1996 in memory of Corrie’s good friend Richard C., who passed away from AIDS in 1995.  Due to the stigma of HIV/AIDS at the time, Richard initially faced his illness alone, as many people with HIV/AIDS continue to do to this day.   Through his courage and the support of Corrie, Richard faced his situation bravely, eventually confided his illness with his family, and died peacefully in a loving environment surrounded by family and friends.  Through the experience of supporting Richard in both his fight against AIDS as well as his efforts to accept his HIV/AIDS status without shame, Corrie made a commitment to Richard’s memory to build an organization to assist people both infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Until recently, Richard’s place operated both permanent and transitional housing units. With the cut in funding, the transitional housing had to be closed. They are now seeking funding to keep the permanent housing open through the end of the calendar year when another funding source renews. To do so, they need $100,000.

Jamie shared his findings with me and others. We knew more would be needed, but we had to do our part. It was determined that we would invite Corrie to come, offer a Mission Moment, and that we would receive a freewill offering for Richard’s Place. We would also do a Pancake Breakfast, fully funded by donations, on Memorial Day. The freewill offering produced $1271 and the Pancake Breakfast an additional $1,232 Thanks to all who contributed with cash donations, in kind donations, cooked, served, ate pancakes, cleaned up, or all the above. You are awesome!

Every bit helps. Richard’s Place is doing all they can to secure other funding streams. We can continue to do our part. Come, invite your friends, be a part of another Pancake Breakfast on the 4th of July. Perhaps you are part of another community organization. Share the need with them. Perhaps they can make their own contribution or, at least, come and support our effort. Check out Richard’s Place’s website to learn more about their ministry, www.richardsplace.org.

I was recently reminded of the parable in Matthew 25, where Jesus speaks of a final judgement where those who fed the hungry, clothed the naked and cared for the sick, did so for Christ and are welcomed into God’s glory. This is an opportunity for us to care for “the least of these,” and by doing so care for Christ. This is an opportunity for us to be the church. May it be so.