How About Looting Our Churches?

I saw an interesting news article recently about a business that is based near Kenosha, Wisconsin. The business is called “Penzeys Spices” and the owner of the business also lives there. You may be familiar with this store since they have shops in the Chicago area. I had never heard of it until I was in Chicago about 10 years ago with a good friend. I did not know the area as well as I do now, but I think we were at the store in Naperville. Then when I worked in Louisville for a few years, she would sometimes give me a list of things to pick up for her at the store there since there is not one in Peoria. I did not know anything about the owner of the business.
Now I have learned that he has taken a firm anti-racist stand in public statements. In the last week, with so much unrest and with businesses in Kenosha being broken into, someone wrote to Bill Penzey suggesting that he might not have the same attitude if it was his store that was being looted. His reaction? “What if we looted our own store?” They did an inventory of the Kenosha store. They are asking their customers to suggest food pantries and other agencies that are raising money to fund change. They will then donate the same inventory that is in their Kenosha store to these entities so that they can work toward change in their communities.
It made me think about what we have inside most churches. Having been a pastor and, especially, an interim pastor who stressed about getting rid of the clutter and the items we were not using in a church building, I have looked into a lot of nooks and crannies. I know that most churches are “holding hostage” a lot of material that could be put to good use.
Do you have lots of books and unused curriculum in your building? How could you get those books into the hands of people who will actually use them or donate to them to an organization that can sell them to provide money for the good work they are doing?
Do you have a kitchen full of dishes and pots and pans and utensils that have sat idle for some time or that you know you will not be using in the same way you once did? What about providing them to a place like Facing Forward to End Homelessness or a similar group? All of those dishes that just weigh down your cupboards could be used by individuals and families starting out in their first home as they leave behind their shelter insecurity.
Are there toys (that are still safe and usable) in a Sunday School room or nursery that are sitting idle? What group in your neighborhood could put them to good use in the ministry and mission that they do?
What else can you think of that is locked up in your church building but could be put to better use by those who are making a difference in people’s lives every day?
The circumstances in which we do ministry and call for justice are different for us as we do not meet together in the same way we did a year ago. But the call to do justice and to love kindess and to walk humbly with God has not changed. How can you use what is sitting idle in your church building to bring hope in the name of Jesus Christ?
The Rev. Susan (Sue) Krummel
Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of Chicago