Meeting at the YMCA

This Friday night, there will be a neighborhood meeting at the YMCA. We hope to keep the focus on safety and how to make the neighborhood safer. Please pray for this meeting. If you can come, please do. If there is yelling and arguing, please avoid entering into it. Besides your ideas about safety, you are there to represent First United Methodist Church. You are there to share what you’ve seen and heard and experienced and why you are a part of this ministry. That is a very important witness to offer. If people are verbally attacking the church, do not attack back but if you can, say something like, “That is not my experience. My experience is…..” Share something of your own journey and how the ministry of the church has had a life changing impact on your life. Most important, as I said on Sunday, Let your light shine and be a distributor of God’s grace. Hope to see you there. 

Pastor Steve

For over eleven years now we have been in ministry with some of our neediest neighbors. The Neighborhood Ministry, now Neighborhood Services Center has grown in scope and offerings and we have made improvements along the way. We have earned the appreciation and respect of police, city officials, county and state political figures, secular non-profits, and many churches and people of faith.  
We have also weathered our share of attacks from business and land owners who have told us that they like what we do but want us to do it somewhere else. Now we have a group of residents who believe that we are hurting the neighborhood. I’m not sure why we are taking all the heat when our neighborhood is loaded with organizations that serve the homeless, mentally ill, addicted, and working poor. For some reason “that church” seems to be the lightening rod. 
Fear in the neighborhood is completely understandable. We have had two terrible stabbings in the neighborhood, one ending in the senseless and tragic death of a young pregnant woman. This act was committed by a mentally ill man who wandered all over Salinas and rarely used our services. But when something horrible like this happens and fear sets in, people want to point fingers and we are receiving blame. 
Homelessness, mental illness, and addiction are very complicated problems on a local, state, and national level. We work in cooperation and partnership with the city, police, other non-profits, and the faith community. 
I have been working with Mayor Gunter, Council member McShane, and City Manager Corpus to organize a community meeting at the YMCA next Friday January 10  from 6 to 7:30 PM. The hope is to focus on neighborhood safety and move away from a focus on shutting down the church. But there will certainly be some of that. 
I want to invite those of you who know this ministry and have seen what we do and how lives have been and are being touched to come to this meeting in support and to be a level head that would like to work with others to make a safer community. I need your support. 
I believe that we are called to this ministry in the spirit of Jesus. 
In Christ’s Service.

Pastor Steve Lundin