As received by Church Council on July 8, 2017
REPORT FROM THE SPIRIT CAFÉ OVERSIGHT TEAM
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at
all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” John Wesley
FUMC Santa Rosa has been feeding the hungry and homeless since its founding more than 150 years ago. Recently we have become even more aware of hunger and homelessness in our community.
The current ministry focus of Spirit Café began in the spring of 2012, and is the latest chapter in our
history of service. The Spirit Café Oversight Team was formed to focus and fortify our efforts in
this critical ministry of service.
SPIRIT CAFÉ—AN OVERVIEW
Spirit Café provides a safe harbor, a hot-cooked meal, and a religious service including communion led by one of our pastors every Tuesday evening. Roughly 100 guests come to Spirit Café each week, and one-third or more stay for the service. The male-female quotient is approximately 60-40, and we see new
guests each week. While our guests’ voices are sometimes raised (mostly in praise but occasionally in anger), we have never witnessed anything even resembling violence. Moreover, we have never had an out-of-control incident of any kind at our facility during Spirit Café. The atmosphere is generally one of
gratefulness. One volunteer, when asked why he worked at Spirit Café every week, said, “I think of Spirit Cafe as a gift… to me… to be able to do this.” And Spirit Café serves our core value statement:
We…commit ourselves to the mission of growing loving communities of faith centered on Jesus that express themselves through both personal spirituality and social responsibility, reaching up to God and reaching out to all people in God’s love.
The basic procedures for operating Spirit Café have served us well for the past five years. These procedures include: who shops, who cooks, who greets, who serves, who monitors the safety, who looks after the facility, who sets up, and who cleans up. We are working on documenting these procedures for
use by future volunteers, and for reference by the Oversight Team and others.
OBJECTIVES OF THIS REVIEW AND OVERSIGHT
1. To clarify how Spirit Café fits into the FUMC organization
2. To revisit and improve services we provide to the homeless and hungry
3. To make certain our worship services are safe for everyone in and around our community
1. Clarifying how Spirit Café fits into the FUMC organization
A. Spirit Café is a ministry of the church, officially recognized and authorized by the Pastors and Church Council.
B. The Spirit Café Oversight Team was created by the Church Council to be the communications channel to the council and larger community.
C. Pastor Blake, Pastor Lindsey, and/or Pastor Sekove are the lead officials on Tuesday Nights.
D. Doug Albertson is appointed by the Senior Pastor as the staff person in charge of Tuesday evening routines.
E. Peg Ferrel serves as dinner host, floor monitor, and general manager. Mike Ferrel keeps an eye on guests who may be struggling to adapt to the setting—every Tuesday evening at Spirit Café is different—and Norm Hardin, a retired law enforcement officer, is also there to help. (While service is our goal, safety is always on everyone’s mind.)
F. The budget for food, supplies, and staff are well known and stable. We do not anticipate any new, long-term expenditures.
G. Our FUMC congregation is becoming more involved and supportive of Spirit Café. Twenty to twenty-five percent of all those in attendance each Tuesday night are FUMC members.
H. We have a growing number of Spirit Café volunteers who are otherwise unconnected with the church.
2. Revisiting and improving services we provide to the homeless and hungry as we evolve
A. We call them “guests’ here for purposes of simplicity, but we think of them as friends and neighbors.
B. There is much more we want to do to involve our guests in the dinner, as well as the spiritual services provided at Spirit Café.
a. We ask guests to become table hosts, make announcements, and help in certain areas. There are things they can do to help one another and us:
1.) Guests already participate enthusiastically in the call-for-prayers and experiential sharing parts of the religious service.
2.) Last autumn, four guests—three were homeless—created a play called Blessed are the Homeless for other guests and church members, which was performed at Spirit Café and can be viewed on the FUMC website.
b. We are creating a directory of guests who are qualified to help other guests with specific challenges in the community. (One guest, for instance, is a practicing attorney with a lot of experience in laws covering housing and eviction. Another guest tutors the homeless in English-as-a-second-language classes.)
c. We are creating a dynamic list of church members who are on hand and able to provide rides “home” for guests who want to stay for the service but otherwise cannot. We think this might increase the number of guests who stay for services and thereby become more involved with the church.
d. We plan to invite social service representatives to be on hand to meet privately with guests and answer questions about housing, health, safety, etc. A different resource person could be enlisted each week to meet with guests before and during dinner.
e. Spirit Café serves as a means of evangelism, as at least five of our guests have already become members of the church!
C. Everything we do as volunteers supports what FUMC professionals are doing to strengthen our greater community of faith and provide a safe sanctuary for children, young adults, and vulnerable adults who come to us.
3. Making certain Spirit Café is safe for everyone in and around our community
A. Safety for our guests, for our volunteers, for surrounding neighborhood community members, and for the children who attend the preschool at FUMC—is our primary concern. No serious harm has ever happened during Spirit Café, and that is the way we want to keep it.
B. Should questions and/or problems arise about safety, noise abatement or anything else, we have a list of opinion leaders in the community surrounding the church who stand ready to speak on our behalf. (Our relationship with the police is particularly strong, which is important because we serve what can be called the “downtown homeless community”.) We have never needed to use these spokespeople, but we are prepared to.
C. Doug Albertson’s name and contact information has been circulated to surrounding neighborhood members, and he will personally answer any questions they may have. Brad Childs, who is not a member of FUMC, serves as Doug’s liaison in the local neighborhood. The dentists who adjoin our property also partner with us to promote good community relations.
Members of the Church Council are also partners in our Spirit Café mission.
We welcome your input, participation, and feedback.
Finally, we urge everyone to visit Spirit Café any Tuesday evening and enjoy this God-given “gift” that has been set before our church. Doors open at 5:30 p.m; dinner is served at 5:45; worship begins at approximately 6:10.
SPIRIT CAFÉ OVERSIGHT TEAM:
Doug Albertson, Mike Ferrel, Peg Ferrel, Norm Hardin, Michael Welch