By Toua Yang
CA-NV Conference of The UMC
As Oakland and the surrounding Alameda County area digs in its heels to combat the homeless crisis, many churches in the California-Nevada Conference are involved in doing their part. As an example, this past Sunday, Nov. 18, Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church held its annual Pre-Thanksgiving Meal event for the homeless – or, as senior pastor, the Rev. Anthony L. Jenkins, Sr. frames it – the unsheltered community.
It’s an important event, Jenkins, believes, because “so many feeding organizations prepare meals from Thursday to Sunday.” Offering the Thanksgiving dinner on a non-traditional day enables Taylor Memorial to fill a void for the unsheltered community.
Asked what was provided, Pastor Jenkins emphasized, “a ‘homecooked’ meal with all the trimmings: turkey, dressing, gravy, ham, salad, yams, cranberry sauce, cake, and pie.” In an act of increased love, “we don’t pre-package these meals,” he said. “We offer the community the ability to select what they want [on their plate]. So often, ‘choice’ has been absorbed from the community and we want them to know that they have choices.”
This year, members of the church and volunteers also gave away clothing and grocery bags.
Jenkins believes that feeding the unsheltered community is important and a worthy ministry. “I believe that God is wanting us to seek ways to do new ministry, new things at our church. I think that this spiritual, innovative way of thinking – and prayer – will guide us into new fruitful ministry.”
Jenkins says he wants to combat the feeling of rejection that the unsheltered often have. He hopes that giving an opportunity to sit and share a meal with others will send a message of compassion to Oakland's homeless, and inspire them with hope.