This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Warming relations

What the world needs now is more Coffee Corners. In a time of so much division and strife, it’s refreshing to see people spot a problem and do something about it.

The pop-up Hutchinson, Kan., ministry of friendship to homeless people desperate for multiple kinds of warmth has a simple beauty that has been flickered away in many places by bureaucracy and pessimism. A small group of people can still see a need and react swiftly to it without the need for permits, committee meetings and so many other hurdles that can drag on for months or even doom flashes of compassion.

The Masts and the wider Hutchinson community should be commended for supporting the endeavor, because efforts to help the homeless don’t always go so smoothly.

Fort Collins (Colo.) Mennonite Fellowship learned that when it wanted to expand its ministry to the homeless by installing lockers on the outside of its building to help people not have to lug the entirety of their possessions wherever they went. After getting what appeared to be city approval in July, 11 lockers were installed in September, but complaints from neighbors about potential loitering prompted the city council to implement more restrictive policies in October.

The congregation ultimately had to abandon its ministry and filed a lawsuit against the city over allegations of discriminatory practices.

No legal solution has been reached. The situations are not exactly the same, but it seems Fort Collins city officials could be inspired by Hutchinson’s compassion and search for a compromise.

Rather than dig a hole in the ground and bury the vacant rental property to protect it until the next tenant comes along, the Masts are using the talents entrusted in them (Matt. 25:14-30). Judging by the number of lives they are able to positively impact every day, a great many people are getting a pretty good return on their investment.

Tim Huber

Tim Huber is associate editor at Anabaptist World. He worked at Mennonite World Review since 2011. A graduate of Tabor College, Read More

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