Church to Hungry Homeless: Pray First, Eat Later December 31, 2008

Church to Hungry Homeless: Pray First, Eat Later

The Faith Advocacy Impacting the Homeless (FAITH) Foundation is a non-profit working to help homeless people in New Jersey.

The foundation has had trouble finding headquarters. It’s been kicked out of buildings before, but founder Robin Reilly thought she was in luck when the First Reformed Church of Hackensack took in her organization.

That is until Christmas dinner last week.

Some of the 100 homeless people being served hadn’t eaten for over 24 hours.

So Reilly and her volunteers began to feed them.

Without praying first.

Or listening to the sermon.

Or singing Christmas carols.

That pissed off church officials enough to kick the group out two days later.

The Rev. Timonty Ippolito, pastor at Faith Reformed Church in Lodi, which holds Sunday worship services at the church, said the “itinerary” called for “worship, word and prayer” first, telling the food servers in the chow line to “drop” the utensils.

Ippolito said he would call the police if Reilly tried to interrupt the service.

While Ippolito delivered his sermon tempers flared in the back of the room when Reilly said, “This is not what I would call a Christian service.”

That riled the Rev. Leonard Masquelier, the pastor at the Hackensack church, who roared, “Robin, you’re out of here!”

Two days after the event, the church council sent Reilly an e-mail, telling her “effective immediately, your organization is no longer welcome in our church facilities.”

That is *totally* what Jesus would’ve done.

Yes, Reilly broke the church’s rules… but in the spirit of the season, shouldn’t the needs of the homeless have been met before the needs of the pastors?

First Reformed Church of Hackensack: Acting “Christian” every day of the year… except Christmas.

(via The Daily Profaner)


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  • Nick

    You’re forgetting christians don’t really know how to act in the way christ did. supposedly, anyway.

  • Sad, just sad.

  • See, this is what makes it hard to be snarky. On the one hand you’ve got great people doing great things, like feeding hungry people. On the other you’ve got jerks who see hunger as a tool for proselytization. Both groups are Christians.

    I like being snarky to the latter group ’cause they deserve it. I want to pitch in and help the first group ’cause I don’t really care that they cling to myth, I’m just glad they’re trying to help.

    Here’s to the FAITH foundation for trying to do the right thing. (Raises NYE glass a few hours early – any excuse, yeah?)

  • Wait, which group was Christian again?

  • TheDeadEye

    The foundation has had trouble finding headquarters. It’s been kicked out of buildings before

    Not to defend the church for making homeless people listen to inane prattle before getting some food, but something tells me this Robin gal is a bit too combative for the likes of the average male pastor.

  • JimboB

    Kudos to Robin Reilley! Don’t worry about preaching; just feed the homeless! That’s certainly more effective

    Suggested prayer for next year:

    “Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.” – Bart Simpson

  • Dan

    “That is *totally* what Jesus would’ve done.”

    LOL! Perfect sarcasm, Hemant!

    I can just picture Rev. Ippolito huffing and puffing in anger, trying to preach to a group who is having trouble paying attention because… oh, I don’t know… THEY’RE STARVING?!

    Kudos to Robin and her organization.

  • Well, as Christ said — the poor will always be around, so church — the “body of Christ” — comes first. (Matthew 26:11)

  • benjdm

    Stop using “Christian” as a synonym for good behavior. It’s bullshit, on par with using “Godless” to describe bad behavior.

  • Using the promise of food to get hungry people to go to church and pray is sadly not at all uncommon. It seems that many missionary organizations base their work on it.

  • Aaron

    I’d say they were acting very Christian. After all, the highest priority for Christians is worshipping Jesus. Spiritual needs are more important than physical needs. So, they were actually following their doctrines to the T when they denied food until after prayer.

  • That’s why I am not fond of religious charities. There’s always an ulterior motive.

  • Kat

    Robin Reilly may be a bit combative, her group gets tossed out of buildings all of the time, but what the so-called man of god did, was just sick and sad.

    This, sadly, happens at most churches that claim to want to help the homeless and needy.
    They get them in on the promise of a hot meal and a warm bed, and then they force them to listen to a sermon before they can eat, and many of them are truly starving. That meal may be their only decent meal in weeks, they are counting on it for their very survival, yet they have to sit and watch it get cold so that the preacher man can do what he thinks Jesus would have him him do.

    According to scripture, Jesus didn’t make people listen to him talk about his father before he gave them fishes and loaves.

    It’s just sick. Good luck to that church getting donations in the upcoming year.

  • Debra

    Robin requested use of the kitchen and fellowship hall facilities for two events: her annual memorial service and the Christmas party. The church agreed to this. A time was set, she ordered the food with the caterer (who donated everything for 125 people), took care of all the logistics with food and thousands of dollars in gifts, her staff shoveled the sidewalks (after that icy snowstorm), cleaned and set up the room, and then was handed an “itinerary” at the last minute as to how the program was going to be run, even though everything had been planned.

    The minister wanted to go first, so much so that he made the servers drop their utensils. Plates of food were discarded as some people had already been served.

    Robin is not combative; she does stick up for those utilizing tax-paid programs, so that taxpayers get some bang for their bucks, and requests that her clients be treated with respect and not be used as pawns by the many poverty-industries that the taxpayers pay for.

    Those who ever took the time to stop by FAITH Foundation supported her, in spirit and financially. Those that didn’t, speculate on what she does and they are her biggest critics.

    There is more to this story, which is likely connected to her eviction from the State Street office, that the city supported for years.

  • Mark

    There ain’t no such thing as a christian.

  • Bill

    See – the fucking “Christians” can’t even get along with _each_other_! Why do they expect those of us who don’t share their little fantasy to believe anything they say?

    Here’s a story for you:

    I was eating at a Village Inn restaurant one morning a few years ago, and happened to notice a couple of guys in suits sitting in a booth nearby, with a whole bunch of notebooks and crap spread out on the table between them. Being the nosy sort, I listened in on their conversation. The one (the “trainer” apparently) kept explaining to the “trainee” various ways in which you could make people like you. “Be their friend. Find them when they’re desperate and offer to help them. Once you’ve pulled them out of the gutter and fed them and cleaned them up, they’ll believe anything you tell them. They’ll do anything you ask them to. That’s when you ask them to join you in worshiping at our church.”

    Talk about a “hidden agenda”. This was a “youth group leader” talking to a college student who was apparently lured into their group. Douche bags. I hope they all choke on an altar boy’s underwear and die.

  • Kylie

    Kat says: “According to scripture, Jesus didn’t make people listen to him talk about his father before he gave them fishes and loaves.” Obviously haven’t read the book then Kat? They’d been there all day and the disciples came up to Jesus and said, “The people have been here all day without food. They won’t even have enough energy to walk home now.” That’s when Jesus asked who had food, and did the loaves and fishes magic.