Last Tuesday an Interfaith Prayer Meeting was held in Kiener Plaza in front of the Old Courthouse where the Dred Scott Decision was handed down in 1857. Mr. Scott had unsuccessfully sued for the freedom from slavery for his wife, two daughters and himself.
Leaders from Christian, including Bishop Smith, Muslim, and Jewish traditions spoke about the insipient disease of racism in our area. Following the prayer gathering we were invited to join in a peaceful protest marching to City Hall. I am not one prone to march in demonstrations, yet at that time it seemed apropos to do so. As we marched the St. Louis City Police stopped traffic so that we could safely make our way up Market Street. When we dispersed after the short gathering in front of City Hall, and as I made my way back to my SUV, I stopped and thanked each officer I encountered for protecting us as we marched. None of us, except Jason Stockley, knows what happened that fateful night in 2011 when he shot and killed Anthony Smith; and I respect the right and privilege of citizens to peacefully protest the decision handed down last Friday. On the other hand violent protests and equally violent reaction by those in law enforcement is not the way to battle this specter of racism that continues to pervade the St. Louis region.
I call upon each of us to examine his/her conscience concerning the venom of discrimination that pervades our society. If you find yourself profiling others because of race or ethnic origin, speaking is a disrespectful manner about those who are different from you, or other things please ask God to help you. Such thoughts/judgments and actions are sinful and violate the commandment from God to love each other as we would be loved ourselves. All of us are loved and cherished by God and God desires all of us to love each other. The “Jesus Prayer” is one that I often pray myself. “O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Pray this prayer whenever you find yourself acting in a manner that is not consistent with our call to be ambassadors of Christ.
~ Fr. Al Jewson
This morning the judge issued the verdict in the Jason Stockley murder trial. As you recall, Stockley was a police officer for the City of St. Louis when he shot and killed Anthony Smith after a police chase in 2011. There is a breach of community trust in this case. Protesters have continued to gather in downtown St. Louis and north St. Louis. Our US Constitution grants people the right to peacefully protest. Please pray that the protesters continue to act without violence. While the police and National Guard are there to maintain order, please pray that the police and National Guard act without prejudice.
Bishop Smith sent a notice to Diocese of Missouri clergy this morning calling for prayer and peaceful demonstration. He wrote, “Pray for justice. Pray for peace. Pray for the safety of all.”
Following is the prayer attributed to St. Francis.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we
are born to eternal life. Amen.
~ Fr. Al Jewson
A little over two years ago, when I served as Interim Rector at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Lake St. Louis, Paul Jokerst approached the Vestry about Laundry of Love. After partnering up with Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Charles, the firstLaundry of Love started in St. Charles. Another Laundry of Lovehas been started by the Church of the Holy Communion in University City. Below are excerpts from an article in Sunday’s “St. Louis Post Dispatch”. It was written by Doug Moore and entitled: “Church offers love by the load at a University City Laundromat”. It features the Rev. Mike Angell, Rector of Holy Communion, some parishioners, John Sadl, owner of Classic Coin Laundry in University City, and Paul Jokerst.
Angell wanted to begin offering free laundry service one night a month — a basic that can sometimes be out-of-reach financially for a family struggling to get by. As a Christian, the idea struck Sadl as the right fit for the business he has run across from Heman Park since 1981. “Following Jesus means following Jesus out into the neighborhood,” Angell said. Otherwise, it is hard to know what kind of help people need, he said. A laundromat provides a captive audience, customers flipping through magazines or staring at their phones waiting for washers and dryers to run their cycles.
“We have the gift of time. Why not engage people?” Angell said. “What if we turned doing laundry into something you looked forward to?”Tapping into a national model, Laundry of Love was introduced this summer in University City. “We’re not here to proselytize or evangelize,” Angell said. “We have wanted to make a bigger footprint in the neighborhood and our folks get to know our neighborhood.”
One evening last month, the parking lot of the Classic Coin was filled to capacity. Trunks popped open, exposing heaping baskets and bulging bags of laundry. Children helped their moms carry the mounds into the laundromat, where they were met with church volunteers. Customers were asked to sign in and include their ZIP code, number of loads of laundry and how they found out about the service. They were given quarters, laundry detergent and fabric softener. Kenna Sutton, 43, stood near one of six washing machines with her sudsy belongings inside. She has a washer at home, but a broken dryer. With six boys and a husband, dirty laundry is a perpetual condition. “This is a big help for me,” Sutton said. Not only can she get a large amount of laundry done at one time, it’s also a significant cost savings. Jessica Jones said it can cost her family $80 a month to do laundry. With those funds freed up, “you can use the money for buying groceries, gas for the car, taking the kids out for ice cream.”Jones, 30, an early childhood educator, said churches often seem to be the ones with their hands out, “asking for tithing and offerings.” “This shows humanity,” she said, looking around the crowded room.
The idea of a congregation taking over a laundromat has been around about a dozen years, beginning in Venice, Calif. It started as a way to help the homeless, who seldom have access to clean clothes, but through the years expanded to help anyone who needs it. It has grown to at least 100 laundromats across the country, according to Laundry of Love, a nonprofit that took the idea from an act of kindness to a national movement. Although Episcopalian congregations are the primary operators, synagogues and mosques also have started similar programs.
The program run by Holy Communion is one of the newer ones. The congregation held its first free laundry night in July. Last month, through word of mouth and fliers posted at the library, community center, groceries and food pantries, the amount spent on providing the laundry service was five times higher, Angell said.
Paul Jokerst helped start a Laundry of Love program in St. Charles County two years ago, thanks to a speech he heard Angell give in 2014 at the annual conference of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri .
Jokerst, who was a St. Charles police officer at the time, took the laundry program idea back to his congregation at Transfiguration Episcopal Church in Lake Saint Louis, which partnered with Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Charles. Their first laundromat adoption was two years ago in St. Charles; two months ago, the congregations added a Wentzville location. “ If you make the gesture that you are there to help without being a sales rep for the church, it goes farther in today’s world,” said Jokerst, who is serving as police chief of Paola, Kan., while finishing up his schooling to become an Episcopalian deacon.
Currently St. Paul’s offers a neighborhood BBQ every other Friday evening throughout the summer. This ministry of St. Paul’s attracts many neighborhood people including young teens. What if we looked into Laundry of Love? Do you have one free night a month? In the article Fr. Angell said that churches are supposed to be a blessing to their neighborhood. Are you willing to be present at a neighborhood Laundromat for a few hours one night? Are you willing to engage others in conversation? Remember, this is not about evangelizing; rather it is about being a neighbor. Something to pray about, think about, and converse about – Jesus always calls out of our “comfort zone” to be a presence to others.
“Following Jesus means following Jesus out into the neighborhood.”
~ Fr. Al Jewson
Hurricane Harvey has wreaked its havoc in Houston and surrounding area and finally left the Texas coast as it heads in a northeasterly direction. No longer labeled “Harvey” it moves as heavy rains and wind. We live in an imperfect world or as Richard Rohr writes “The Gospel accepts that life is tragic, but it graciously adds that we can survive and will even grow from this tragedy. This is the great turnaround! It all depends on whether we are willing to see down as up and learn to draw upon the Infinite Source.” (Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation – Cosmic Forgiveness, 9/1/2017)
Death, injury, loss of home and property all add to the notion of life as tragic. Our prayers have been with known and unknown sisters and brothers in Texas during this tragedy and we also have an opportunity to help financially. Please be generous.
~ Fr. Al Jewson
Rector's Corner posts written by Pastor Rebecca.