From the presidential campaign down, many people are all too willing to believe the worst about each other. An ugly rumor starts, blogs and social media repeat it and sometimes even reputable media outlets lend legitimacy to the rumor.
This happened just last week in Merced with reports of an apparent conflict between Merced County Rescue Mission and the nearby Central Presbyterian Church. Reports charged that the church was working against the Rescue Mission and cared little for those the Mission serves.
Here is the good news: Nothing could be further from the truth! This is one case where we can celebrate that goodness is still alive and a local church lives out the love we’d hope to see in people who follow Jesus.
The Rescue Mission board and representatives from the church met recently and agreed it would be a good idea to relocate the feeding program away from the downtown area. Calvary Temple Assembly of God Church allowed us to use its facility, where we are able to serve everyone in one seating. This is great because people no longer have to congregate outside while waiting to be fed.
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Last week, Central Presbyterian generously donated two wonderful vans that enable the Mission to transport residents, food and supplies to feed those who are hungry.
Merced County Rescue Mission and Central Presbyterian Church have enjoyed a close relationship for years. We are neighbors, after all, and the Rescue Mission has had the privilege of using classrooms provided by the church. Central Presbyterian members have served on the Mission’s board of directors and as teachers and counselors in the Mission’s programs. Men from the Mission’s recovery program help set up chairs for Sunday services at Central Presbyterian and several worship there on a regular basis.
Church members are personally involved – organizing job-readiness programs, teaching life-development classes, mentoring and more. Last weekend, a retired ranger and others from the church took a group of our residents hiking in Yosemite.
Annually, Central Presbyterian sends six men from the Mission to the Mount Hermon Conference Center for a special weekend, all-church retreat with Central Presbyterian families.
When the Rescue Mission was dealing with a difficult cash-flow situation, Central Presbyterian paid off the mortgage on the Rescue Mission’s building.
Over the years, Central Presbyterian Church has been a great blessing to the work the Rescue Mission is involved in as the Mission serves the needs of those who are the least, the last and the lost in our society. We are both grateful for one another and gladly celebrate our fruitful partnership.
The Rescue Mission has been working hard for at least eight years to find a new location in order to serve people better. Central Presbyterian is very supportive of this effort. The city of Merced and Merced County are both working with the Rescue Mission to find a new location. The problem of homelessness is a problem for the city, the county, businesses, churches – for the whole community.
The Rescue Mission and Central Presbyterian are committed to working together to find solutions that will benefit everyone.
The Rescue Mission invites any who care about making a difference – from Merced or far beyond – to be a part of the Mission’s work.
Many people expressed indignation on the Mission’s behalf when they heard the mistaken reports. Though those reports were in error, this moment offers a great opportunity for all of us to join together for Merced’s homeless. Please consider joining Central Presbyterian and many others who support the Merced County Rescue Mission as we seek to bring good into the lives of those who lack homes.
While external forces have attempted to drive a wedge between Central Presbyterian and the Rescue Mission, we are moving forward through a strong partnership to accomplish the mission God has given us. We will work hand in hand for his greater glory!
Bruce Metcalf is director of the Merced County Rescue Mission. He wrote this for the Merced Sun-Star.