Letter to the Congregation from the CUMC Leadership Board

Dear Friends of Calvary UMC,

We are blessed to be in ministry in the community of Lewiston. We are overjoyed to seek, serve, and celebrate God with all of our neighbors as we live out our core values of bold service, radical hospitality, and being city centered.

Over the last year or so we have been wrestling with how we can best serve our homeless family in Christ, especially those who have been sleeping on our front steps. We are heartbroken that not all persons are able to have housing for reasons including but not limited to systemic oppression, mental health struggles, job insecurity, financial stress, and family struggles. We understand that shelter space is limited in our city, and that persons who are homeless may not be able to be in a shelter for one reason or another. We pray for the day when all people will have a healthy home and a safe shelter.

Over the last couple of months, the security for all people (including both our congregation and those sleeping on the steps) has become a concern. We are aware of some drug and alcohol use on the steps, as well as aggressive behavior by some persons who stop by late at night, not to sleep, but to hang out. This behavior is unacceptable as we want to create a safe environment for all.

Pastor Annie has been in conversations with the Lewiston Police Department, Trinity Jubilee Center (who had a similar situation in the past), persons sleeping on the steps, clergy colleagues, and members of the congregation. She has relayed this information to us, and we have all been in deep prayer and conversation about next steps.

As a result, we have put up official “No Trespassing” signs on the church property in cooperation with the Lewiston Police Department. We want Calvary UMC to be a deeply welcoming, inclusive, and safe space for every person in the congregation, all groups who meet in our space (including AA, NA, and Bethel Church), and everyone in the neighborhood.

Homelessness, poverty, and addiction are major concerns in our community, and we hope that you will pray about how we can continue to reach out in love and ministry to our neighbors. We ask that you join us in praying the following prayer over the next few months:

“Loving God who created us all in your own image,

We thank you for always being present with us in our community.

Pour out your healing Spirit on all those struggling with addiction, homelessness, financial stress, family conflict, and mental and physical health.

Help us to be an active sign of hope and healing to all people in our neighborhood.

Help us share your love that knows no end.

Give us vision to continue to be in ministry with our community.

In Jesus Christ’s name we pray,

Amen.”

In Christ’s Love,

The Leadership Board of Calvary UMC