Churches struggle to compensate for lost social services during Minnesota government shutdown
July 8, 2011
Rev. Kevin Schill is watching more people visit the food shelf at the Simpson Center for Servant Ministries (Minneapolis) these days.
Churches stretch to help
These vulnerable neighbors are coming to churches and related ministry providers for a variety of kinds of help.
Child care losses create domino effect
Loss of state funding is straining United Methodist churches that house or offer child-care—and this starts a domino effect.
Housing desperately needed
The demand for affordable housing is great in Minnesota during the nation’s recession. Since the May 22 tornado that hit a struggling northeast Minneapolis neighborhood, that city’s housing and shelter options are quickly depleting. Loss of state assistance adds more pressure.
Youth on the streets are particularly vulnerable. Rev. David Bard, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Duluth, is on the board of Life House, a ministry to homeless youth, identified by Bard as the only such ministry in Minnesota outside the Twin Cities. They are losing about $6,000 a month from lost state support, causing them to cut back on staff, he said.
Webster is fortunate in that he has been able to save money and expects one more paycheck from his employer. Other workers are more vulnerable.
Another necessity is simply getting around—to work, appointments, grocery shopping, and other essential trips. Public transportation was closed down for a while in towns like Redwood Falls, “which greatly affects older people and people with handicapping conditions,” says Rev. Janiece Redman, pastor of First United Methodist in that town. Service was reinstated for three days a week, but that is not enough for those who work four or five days a week, or whose work schedules vary.