Dear Friends in Christ,
As Christ has called us to a life compassion, St. John’s has extended that compassion to all sorts and conditions of people, including those, who for a variety of circumstances, have no place to call home.
While the call to compassion is boundless, our practice of this virtue is conditioned by a variety of needs and resources.
In the past we have practiced a sort of passive hospitality with some homeless folks (and, in a few instances, where the individuals are well know to us, a more active hospitality). Thus we have tacitly allowed folks to sleep on the grounds.
In recent weeks, however, the number of people sleeping on our grounds has increased and the problems around social interaction, care of our campus, and hygiene have arisen. I will not get into specifics here, but will note that these issues have been noticed by neighbors, parishioners, and staff.
We have consulted Church Insurance Company. They have told us that tacit approval of people staying here without supervision, as well as providing particular facilities such as separate bathroom and separate areas for families could put us in some legal jeopardy.
The consensus of the Vestry, therefore, is that overnight stays on the grounds are not permitted, and we will tell law enforcement, our neighbors, and those who are currently staying on our grounds that this is our policy. Other steps will be taken as necessary.
Let me be clear, however, that what difficulties we have had are due to a minority of the people who have crossed our paths, and that the actions of a few should not be imputed to an entire class of people, all of whom are made in the image of God.
We will continue to offer day time hospitality to whomever God sends our way, knowing that in them we will seek and serve the presence of Christ Jesus our Lord.
Grace and Peace,