Author Topic: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them  (Read 3977 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline NicholasMyra

  • Antivoluntarist evangelist
  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 8,833
    • Hyperdox Herman
  • Faith: Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: Partially-overlapping
We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« on: October 27, 2017, 03:13:14 AM »
Parishes and Orthodox Christian groups should engage in the sort of ministry called “Acts of Mercy” or “Works of Mercy.” Often in English we call this sort of ministry “alms-giving,” but alms-giving is only one sort of Act of Mercy.

Activities that identify with the other and love others (the poor most of all) as Christ does. And they do so in an undeniable and honest way.

This is part of the practice that Christ revealed to be the reigning order of his coming Kingdom. Acts of Mercy are one of the three pillars of asceticism in the Sermon on the Mount: Prayer, fasting, and Acts of Mercy. And they are manifestations of the weightier matters of the Law: Justice, mercy, and faithfulness. And St. James says that, if we don’t do Acts of Mercy, then the blessings we offer in their place don’t profit anything.

It’s true that our personal energies are limited and we can only do so many things at once. And we aren’t going to give up liturgy, choir practice, or awkward theological house parties. But Acts of Mercy should be at least as important as these and should be taken up among them.

It’s also true that all just ministries are Acts of Mercy in a sense. But I would say that Acts of Mercy “proper” are those acts where we most identify with the other in an undeniable and honest way, often through tangible loss. They can also be a form of outward ministry, whereas ministries like liturgical service are more insider. If these attempts at distinction strike you as flimsy, then think of it this way: We (Americans or whoever) have been forgetting a few acts of mercy more than others, and that’s just the group of acts we’re talking about, here.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 03:18:55 AM by NicholasMyra »
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline NicholasMyra

  • Antivoluntarist evangelist
  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 8,833
    • Hyperdox Herman
  • Faith: Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: Partially-overlapping
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2017, 03:14:13 AM »
I would like help identifying these sorts of acts of mercy ministries.

Asteriktos has made a great thread identifying specific Orthodox programs that exist, and Agabus made one about a specific sort. I think it would also be helpful to identify all the sorts of Acts of Mercy ministries there are or might be. This would help us know what to look for, join, or create.

Many of these ministries involve either feeding, clothing, housing, treating, ransoming, judging for, or honoring other people, including enemies and strangers, where and when this is needed.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 03:18:08 AM by NicholasMyra »
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline Volnutt

  • Dull Sublunary Lover
  • Hoplitarches
  • *************
  • Posts: 15,089
  • too often left in the payment of false ponchos
  • Faith: Evangelical by default
  • Jurisdiction: Spiritually homeless
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2017, 04:22:24 AM »
Well, churches (of any denom) that can should all be hosting AA and other recovery meetings. Soup kitchens are important, too.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline Volnutt

  • Dull Sublunary Lover
  • Hoplitarches
  • *************
  • Posts: 15,089
  • too often left in the payment of false ponchos
  • Faith: Evangelical by default
  • Jurisdiction: Spiritually homeless
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2017, 04:54:22 AM »
Parishoners or staff who have cars could volunteer to drive elderly and infirm members of the congregation to services, doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, etc.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline Asteriktos

  • Hypatos
  • *****************
  • Posts: 38,667
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2017, 05:26:23 AM »
One might be if someone with auto mechanic experience could be consulted in cases where someone thinks they're getting ripped off. Like elderly mrs. Smith is being told it'll cost $1200 to replace her snizel calibrator, and they say it costs so much because it's hidden behind the tinkerbinker manifold assembly. So the mechanic could point out that there isn't something called a snizel calibrator and she should never go there again.

Lawyers could also do some consulting, and even make a phone call or two if helpful (e.g., in getting callously aggressive debt collectors off someone's back)

Doctors and nurses possibly providing some level of public health clinic style help, or at least some help for parishioners; this seems like it could be one of the most helpful, though probably also one of the most expensive to get up and running, and also maybe tangled up in all sorts of stuff involving legal requirements, health insurance, and malpractice insurance?
"Beat the devil out of it." - Bob Ross

Offline Asteriktos

  • Hypatos
  • *****************
  • Posts: 38,667
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2017, 05:29:59 AM »
The Catholics around here (not sure who exactly) sometimes help people financially with things like rent when they're having trouble making ends meet. I don't think this is a much-publicized ministry, lest they get inundated with way more people than they can possibly help, but it does exist.
"Beat the devil out of it." - Bob Ross

Offline Iconodule

  • Hoplitarches
  • *************
  • Posts: 16,455
  • Faith: Orthodox Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Patriarchate of Johnstown
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2017, 05:31:22 AM »
I'd like to know if churches (Orthodox or not) have ever tried creating debt relief funds for the most vulnerable parishioners or members of the community. And also how they addressed the thorny question of how to determine who gets it first. An ecclesiastic version of the Rolling Jubilee.

I also think churches should strongly consider supporting the National Bail Out.
“Steel isn't strong, boy, flesh is stronger! That is strength, boy! That is power! What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?  Contemplate this on the tree of woe.” - Elder Thulsa Doom of the Mountain of Power

Mencius said, “Instruction makes use of many techniques. When I do not deign to instruct someone, that too is a form of instruction.”

Come look at my lame blog

Offline Agabus

  • The user formerly known as Agabus.
  • Section Moderator
  • Taxiarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 6,271
  • Faith: The Angelus
  • Jurisdiction: Whichever one you think is wrong
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2017, 09:59:06 AM »
One obvious ministry is the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry.

They visit prisoners, provide spiritual catechesis, books, icons, etc.,  and in some instances have helped in the process of getting prisoners tonsured — turning prison cells into monastic cells, as it were.

They also have programs for clergy and laity who want to do local prison ministry, and social reintegration programs for those leaving the prison system.
Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

THE OPINIONS HERE MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ORTHODOX CHURCH

Take a breath, read Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Offline recent convert

  • Orthodox Chrisitan
  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,448
  • St.David of Wales pray for us
  • Faith: Orthodox Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Patriarchate of Antioch
Antiochian OC NA

Beware the wrath of the guardians of "love."

Offline Alpha60

  • A thing of routers, hubs and switches, and dreary web GUIs
  • Technical Director
  • Taxiarches
  • ***
  • Posts: 5,541
  • OCNet Systems and Network Operations
  • Faith: Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Orthodox
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2017, 10:14:51 PM »
I'd like to know if churches (Orthodox or not) have ever tried creating debt relief funds for the most vulnerable parishioners or members of the community. And also how they addressed the thorny question of how to determine who gets it first. An ecclesiastic version of the Rolling Jubilee.

I also think churches should strongly consider supporting the National Bail Out.

+1

Council of Nicea:
Εθη ἀρχαῖα κρατείτω. 
Mores antiqui obtineant.
The ancient ways shall prevail.

The sentiment of Nicea in Greek and Latin, translated into English.

Offline Alpha60

  • A thing of routers, hubs and switches, and dreary web GUIs
  • Technical Director
  • Taxiarches
  • ***
  • Posts: 5,541
  • OCNet Systems and Network Operations
  • Faith: Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Orthodox
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2017, 10:15:15 PM »
One obvious ministry is the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry.

They visit prisoners, provide spiritual catechesis, books, icons, etc.,  and in some instances have helped in the process of getting prisoners tonsured — turning prison cells into monastic cells, as it were.

They also have programs for clergy and laity who want to do local prison ministry, and social reintegration programs for those leaving the prison system.

Aye, I think that is a very good ministry.

Council of Nicea:
Εθη ἀρχαῖα κρατείτω. 
Mores antiqui obtineant.
The ancient ways shall prevail.

The sentiment of Nicea in Greek and Latin, translated into English.

Offline Alpha60

  • A thing of routers, hubs and switches, and dreary web GUIs
  • Technical Director
  • Taxiarches
  • ***
  • Posts: 5,541
  • OCNet Systems and Network Operations
  • Faith: Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Orthodox
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2017, 10:19:25 PM »
I've considered joining or attempting to join Gideons, in that their constitution excludes Roman Catholics, but I might be able to slip in with the whole "we're the oldest Protestants" argument.  Their KJVs lack the Apocrypha, but the KJV is still a very good Bible, and I myself in Ghana was greatly helped by a Gideon's Bible in my guesthouse when homesick at night.  It was actually an NIV study bible, very different from the Bibles issued here, but much of the reading of the Bible I have done in my life, many books I first read and familiarized myself with then, for example, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, and also the distinctions between the four canonical Gospels.

Council of Nicea:
Εθη ἀρχαῖα κρατείτω. 
Mores antiqui obtineant.
The ancient ways shall prevail.

The sentiment of Nicea in Greek and Latin, translated into English.

Offline Alpha60

  • A thing of routers, hubs and switches, and dreary web GUIs
  • Technical Director
  • Taxiarches
  • ***
  • Posts: 5,541
  • OCNet Systems and Network Operations
  • Faith: Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Orthodox
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2017, 04:16:06 AM »
- Dupe -
« Last Edit: October 28, 2017, 04:16:23 AM by Alpha60 »

Council of Nicea:
Εθη ἀρχαῖα κρατείτω. 
Mores antiqui obtineant.
The ancient ways shall prevail.

The sentiment of Nicea in Greek and Latin, translated into English.

Offline Asteriktos

  • Hypatos
  • *****************
  • Posts: 38,667
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2017, 01:15:58 PM »
I wonder if half the battle with stuff like this is just letting the local parish priest know that you have skill X and would be open to helping (or at least considering it) if such skills are needed. So if an immigrant is having problems getting certain necessary legal/governmental paperwork done due to language issues, and a person has already told the priest that they could help with Serbian, then the priest could contact them and ask if they were available, without worrying that they're putting them on the spot or being out of line. This could be extended to a great vareity of skills or abilities, blue or white collar.
"Beat the devil out of it." - Bob Ross

Offline maneki_neko

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 153
  • Faith: Eastern Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: Metropolis of San Francisco
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2017, 01:18:03 AM »
I don't know if this is something that others could benefit from copying, but at our parish and in our town we have a fair amount of active duty/retirees. There recently opened a veteran's transition center close to us (it takes in homeless vets and helps get them on their feet). We have decided to make the focus of Veteran's Day to help out the center and for the weeks leading up to it host a food drive for their pantry.

I'm sure something similar could be done with other shelters in one's local area. It would be nice to tie it in with a specific saint's feast day that correlates with the kind of shelter/food pantry.
主哀れめよ!

Offline arnI

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 177
  • Faith: Eastern Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: GOA Metropolis of New Jersey
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2017, 07:18:35 AM »
I have found that volunteering as dinner server at a shelter helps me understand the plight of others. I am less quick to judge and hope to better myself. The service to the less fortunate teaches me of the frail human condition. Unexpectedly, I have met a few Orthodox.
Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother

Offline Agabus

  • The user formerly known as Agabus.
  • Section Moderator
  • Taxiarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 6,271
  • Faith: The Angelus
  • Jurisdiction: Whichever one you think is wrong
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2018, 12:52:56 PM »
I'd like to know if churches (Orthodox or not) have ever tried creating debt relief funds for the most vulnerable parishioners or members of the community. And also how they addressed the thorny question of how to determine who gets it first. An ecclesiastic version of the Rolling Jubilee.
I am actually beginning to believe that this may in fact be a key gap in our teaching about the eucharistic discernment per 1 Corinthians 11.

I know of a few churches that operate similar ministries. One woman I know has specifically had help in paying her power bill from a local Methodist church, for example. I know that's not the lingering weight of long-term debt, but it is short term relief.
Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

THE OPINIONS HERE MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ORTHODOX CHURCH

Take a breath, read Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Offline Iconodule

  • Hoplitarches
  • *************
  • Posts: 16,455
  • Faith: Orthodox Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Patriarchate of Johnstown
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2019, 07:52:35 PM »
I'd like to know if churches (Orthodox or not) have ever tried creating debt relief funds for the most vulnerable parishioners or members of the community. And also how they addressed the thorny question of how to determine who gets it first. An ecclesiastic version of the Rolling Jubilee.
I am actually beginning to believe that this may in fact be a key gap in our teaching about the eucharistic discernment per 1 Corinthians 11.

I know of a few churches that operate similar ministries. One woman I know has specifically had help in paying her power bill from a local Methodist church, for example. I know that's not the lingering weight of long-term debt, but it is short term relief.

Do you have any details on how this works? For instance, is this something the church publicly talks about (“let us know about your problem and we’ll try to help you out”) or is it more under the radar?
“Steel isn't strong, boy, flesh is stronger! That is strength, boy! That is power! What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?  Contemplate this on the tree of woe.” - Elder Thulsa Doom of the Mountain of Power

Mencius said, “Instruction makes use of many techniques. When I do not deign to instruct someone, that too is a form of instruction.”

Come look at my lame blog

Offline Agabus

  • The user formerly known as Agabus.
  • Section Moderator
  • Taxiarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 6,271
  • Faith: The Angelus
  • Jurisdiction: Whichever one you think is wrong
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2019, 10:16:53 AM »
I'd like to know if churches (Orthodox or not) have ever tried creating debt relief funds for the most vulnerable parishioners or members of the community. And also how they addressed the thorny question of how to determine who gets it first. An ecclesiastic version of the Rolling Jubilee.
I am actually beginning to believe that this may in fact be a key gap in our teaching about the eucharistic discernment per 1 Corinthians 11.

I know of a few churches that operate similar ministries. One woman I know has specifically had help in paying her power bill from a local Methodist church, for example. I know that's not the lingering weight of long-term debt, but it is short term relief.

Do you have any details on how this works? For instance, is this something the church publicly talks about (“let us know about your problem and we’ll try to help you out”) or is it more under the radar?

IIRC there's a fund that is administered at the pastor's discretion, for which he is ultimately answerable to the church's board. It's not quite under the radar, but AFAIK it's not talked about from the lectern except indirectly when the pastor preaches corporate and individual social gospel. They do mention their benevolence ministries in the church bulletin, though.
Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

THE OPINIONS HERE MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ORTHODOX CHURCH

Take a breath, read Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Offline Iconodule

  • Hoplitarches
  • *************
  • Posts: 16,455
  • Faith: Orthodox Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Patriarchate of Johnstown
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2019, 10:19:32 AM »
I'd like to know if churches (Orthodox or not) have ever tried creating debt relief funds for the most vulnerable parishioners or members of the community. And also how they addressed the thorny question of how to determine who gets it first. An ecclesiastic version of the Rolling Jubilee.
I am actually beginning to believe that this may in fact be a key gap in our teaching about the eucharistic discernment per 1 Corinthians 11.

I know of a few churches that operate similar ministries. One woman I know has specifically had help in paying her power bill from a local Methodist church, for example. I know that's not the lingering weight of long-term debt, but it is short term relief.

Do you have any details on how this works? For instance, is this something the church publicly talks about (“let us know about your problem and we’ll try to help you out”) or is it more under the radar?

IIRC there's a fund that is administered at the pastor's discretion, for which he is ultimately answerable to the church's board. It's not quite under the radar, but AFAIK it's not talked about from the lectern except indirectly when the pastor preaches corporate and individual social gospel. They do mention their benevolence ministries in the church bulletin, though.

Thanks. Would you be able to say which church this is? I just want to get an idea of the nuts and bolts of how this is done in a particular setting. You can PM me if you like.
“Steel isn't strong, boy, flesh is stronger! That is strength, boy! That is power! What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?  Contemplate this on the tree of woe.” - Elder Thulsa Doom of the Mountain of Power

Mencius said, “Instruction makes use of many techniques. When I do not deign to instruct someone, that too is a form of instruction.”

Come look at my lame blog

Offline Alpha60

  • A thing of routers, hubs and switches, and dreary web GUIs
  • Technical Director
  • Taxiarches
  • ***
  • Posts: 5,541
  • OCNet Systems and Network Operations
  • Faith: Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Orthodox
Re: We need ministries for acts of mercy – help identify them
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2019, 04:36:59 PM »
I'd like to know if churches (Orthodox or not) have ever tried creating debt relief funds for the most vulnerable parishioners or members of the community. And also how they addressed the thorny question of how to determine who gets it first. An ecclesiastic version of the Rolling Jubilee.
I am actually beginning to believe that this may in fact be a key gap in our teaching about the eucharistic discernment per 1 Corinthians 11.

I know of a few churches that operate similar ministries. One woman I know has specifically had help in paying her power bill from a local Methodist church, for example. I know that's not the lingering weight of long-term debt, but it is short term relief.

I agree.  I think there is also a need for the support of widows, on a larger scale, in the manner of the early Church, due to the hardships faced by widows on fixed incomes.

Council of Nicea:
Εθη ἀρχαῖα κρατείτω. 
Mores antiqui obtineant.
The ancient ways shall prevail.

The sentiment of Nicea in Greek and Latin, translated into English.