Ex-offenders find hope at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
By Ed Stannard for New Haven Register
When Danny had finished serving his time in prison and was dropped off outside the Whalley Avenue jail, he knew where to go – down the street to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church [in New Haven, Connecticut, USA].
But when he sat down for breakfast on a recent Wednesday, he was just one of the many who come for a hot meal at the church at 111 Whalley Ave.
St. Luke’s, through its nonprofit corporation, St. Luke’s Services, serves the ex-offenders because of its location. But you couldn’t tell the ex-convicts from the others who eat there, use the clothing closet, even the diaper bank. Serving everyone without question is St. Luke’s mission.
During Holy week, when the Church thinks of God’s act of Love, in the forgiveness of sins – through the redemption of the world by Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ – here is evidence of the Mission of the Church in, and to, a needy world. And how better to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel – God’s unremitting love for all humanity, reaching out to everyone in need – than service of the poor and outcast of society?
This signal work of grace, embodied in the parish and people of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in New Haven, Connecticut, speaks more loudly than the critics of TEC who voice their loud opposition to its outreach to the victims of homophobia and misogyny.
Here is the New Haven Register’s reporter’s summary of the outreach to ex-prisoners by this Episcopal Church parish in the U.S.A.: “Serving everyone without question is St. Luke’s mission.” If the mission of TEC were no more than this, it would be fulfilling the Gospel call to serve, without condemnation, whomever God brings into our compass of care. Deo gratias!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand