If you have an eye for the cause of the homeless or low-income in Lubbock, then no doubt you have heard about the recent concerns surrounding the Tent City. In short, Link Ministries – the sponsoring agency supporting the Tent City over on Ave. A – responded to the City of Lubbock’s request earlier this year to provide a place for the tents sprouting up on the corner of Broadway and Q. Link provided the location, and since then, some 100 homeless of Lubbock have lived in a tent on their property. Just over 30 residents used the opportunity to transition to more stable living conditions. Others have moved on, some passed away. Above all, the Tent City provided an option for homeless individuals to have a safe place to stay and many in the homeless community made the most of it. Anyway, Link ministries was required to ask the City of Lubbock Planning and Zoning commission to re-zone the location so that the ministry could continue. The commission denied the request, so next Thursday, Link Ministry’s appeal needs to be accepted by 6 of the 7 city council members or else the Tent City will be forced to close. It will be a big day…and I pray the council finds a way to allow the Tent City to continue…otherwise the residents will, again, find themselves on the streets. The local news is all over this story, petitions are spreading, and statements from all corners are being made in support of the Tent City or defense of the city’s actions.
Yet while all this is going on, there is something else going on in the city that has received very little attention. Earlier this spring, several ministers met to discuss how churches can work together to find ways to provide greater support for the homeless community. These conversations grew, and, for the first time in my experience, I witnessed a group of churches commit themselves to work together to address the need. I know, I know, these kinds of conversations happen all the time, but this one was different. From the beginning, the challenge was to determine if there was a way for the *downtown* churches – the ones closest to the problems – to find a way to come together. Now they have. Last week, the news was there at the meeting…they wanted to find the latest on the Tent City, but the bigger news, the news they missed, was the reading of 16 (now 17) churches that submitted a signed(!) covenant to join the newly formed Lubbock Church Coalition for the Homeless. Why was it big? Because churches from multiple traditions looked beyond their differences and committed to join other churches to “meet the needs of the homeless in Lubbock.” What does it look like when Christians show unity? What does it look like when God shines through his people? The churches represented came from these traditions: Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Church of Christ and Roman Catholic. This is news worth celebrating. Next month, ministers, pastors, and priests meet for their first formal LCCH meeting. I could not be more excited.