Homeless Sabbath is a Multi-Faith Call to Action in Union County; Homeless Providers Seeing Crisis with the Lack of Shelter Beds
During the weekend of December 14-16, 2018, multi-faith congregations in Union County, New Jersey will participate in the Third Annual Homeless Sabbath Weekend. This weekend is a “call to action” for multi-faith communities. The weekend offers congregations the opportunity to show faith in action by bringing attention to their neighbors experiencing homelessness.
To date, eighteen multi-faith congregations have registered to participate in the weekend:
- Central Presbyterian, Summit
- Congregation Beth Israel, Scotch Plains
- First Presbyterian Church, Cranford
- First Unitarian Society, Plainfield
- Holy Cross Lutheran, Springfield
- Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Scotch Plains
- Islamic Center of Union County “ICUC”, Union
- New Covenant Church, Plainfield
- St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Plainfield
- St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, Cranford
- Temple Sha’arey Shalom, Springfield
- Temple Sholom, Scotch Plains
- Union Baptist, Elizabeth
- Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rahway
- Townley Presbyterian Church, Union
- Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Westfield
- St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, New Providence
- Fanwood Presbyterian Church
Are you a leader or member of a congregation in Union County that has not yet registered but would like to register for the Homeless Sabbath Weekend. If so, it is not too late, you can use this registration link to sign up for the Homeless Sabbath Weekend.
- During Homeless Sabbath Weekend, congregations will collectively pray for all people experiencing homelessness and for the commitment to end homelessness in our community.
- Participation means sharing a prepared prayer or reading as part of a service, holding a drive for hats, mittens, and scarves or other necessities, performing a short play or incorporating the theme of homelessness into a holiday display or live scene.
- Registered congregations will receive materials to help make their participation as simple as possible during this busy holiday season.
Community Access Unlimited, Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, Family Promise of Union County, Gateway Family YMCA, HomeFirst, Iris House, the Urban League of Union County, the Union County interfaith Coordinating Council and Monarch Housing are organizing this year’s Homeless Sabbath Weekend on behalf of all people who are homeless in Union County.
On the night of January 23, 2018, 459 people, including 41 people without shelter, experienced homelessness in Union County, according to NJ Counts, the Point-In-Time Count. The Homeless Sabbath Weekend organizers believe that no one should be homeless for the holidays or at any time of the year.
The lack of affordable housing in Union County has precipitated a crisis causing working families to become homeless. Due to cuts in state funding, shelter beds are being lost across the state and specifically in Union County.
The loss of the Plainfield YMCA shelter and the closure of Salvation Army shelter beds in Perth Amboy and some shelter beds in Elizabeth forces families and individuals experiencing homelessness to live in their cars, in storage units and in abandoned buildings. These individuals and families are being abandoned and forced to live in places that we would all consider uninhabitable.
The Homeless Sabbath Weekend event aligns with “Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Vigil,” hosted this year held on December 20th at 7 PM at at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1430 Park Avenue, Plainfield.
The Vigil will take place the night before December 21 is the longest night of the year and is a time to remember all people experiencing homelessness who died in the past year due to their lack of shelter or care.
We are encouraging all who will be attending the vigil to bring donations of new mittens, scarves and hats for families and children.
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