May 18: Street Church (2006)

In 2006, Epiphany rector Randolph Charles and Urban Missioner Anne-Marie Jeffery (shown here) began a new ministry for the homeless in downtown Washington. While churches had long provided meals, occasional shelter and indoor worship services for the homeless, a small but growing number of congregations began to recognize that many homeless people will not attend traditional services indoors. So these congregations now go outdoors to bring church to the homeless and anyone else who happens along. Street Church was inspired by the Ecclesia movement, founded by the Rev. Debbie Little Wyman in Boston Commons that takes the Gospel to people who might never venture into a church.

Every Tuesday, a group of volunteers gathers in Epiphany’s kitchen to make the lunches, which consist of two PB&J sandwiches, chips, fruit, and water. A small handmade sign hanging from a shopping cart announces Street Church to people at Franklin Square Park and volunteers hand out fliers. A 15-minute worship service for 20-30 people is followed by lunch and fellowship. In a 2007 New York Times article entitled “No Altar, No Pews, Not Even a Roof, but Very Much a Church,” journalist Neela Banerjee quoted a homeless man describing Epiphany’s Street Church – “This gives me strength to deal with things. I think God is with me. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I could survive all this.”

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