Justice and Compassion
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ ” (Rom. 10:14–15).
As a church we believe that our social engagement in the deep places of pain is an act of evangelism. We bear witness to the Gospel as we put our faith into action. Our church is currently engaged in serving homeless communities via our Friday night outreach at Liberty Plaza and through our monthly outreach at Hope Clinic. We are working on launching a free preschool for low income families in Washtenaw County by the fall of 2020. We are having conversations about how we can engage other avenues of social engagement like forgiving past due medical debt, educating ourselves about the Cash Bail System and how it traps people in jail, engaging the human impact of immigration reforms and debate, continuing to do our part to reduce mass incarceration, and continuing our care for orphans, those in foster care, and those needing to be adopted.
Below is a listing of our current places of engagement in our community.
We serve over 12,000 meals a year through our justice & compassion ministries, many to the homeless and underfed. The food, as much as it’s needed is only the occasion for the greater gift of community and relationship shared by those who serve and those who receive. In reality, we all do a little of each.
Friday Night Homeless Ministry – Liberty Plaza Park, Ann Arbor
Contact: Pastor Shaun Walker
The volunteers of the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor’s Homeless Ministry recognize the dignity of each person by taking God’s kingdom banquet to the streets every Friday evening of every month, of every year since 2006. Volunteers load up a van with food, beverages, grocery bags and clothing, and head to Liberty Plaza Park in downtown Ann Arbor for food and fellowship.
Sunday Meal – Hope Center Ypsilanti
Contact: Joy Lange
Every third Sunday of the month, Vineyard goes to Ypsilanti to prepare and serve an early evening meal to people in need at the Hope Clinic located at 518 Harriet St. Ypsilanti, MI 48197. Our goal is to provide the guests with high quality food and service, showing God’s love in a practical way. There are two crews needed (cooking crew and serving crew). The cooking crew serves from 2-4pm. The serving crew serves from 3:45-5:45pm. Contact Joy Lange for any questions or if you would like to get involved.
Learn more about our Homeless Ministries and opportunities to engage and serve.
Caring for Orphans & Adoption
During our November Slice of Life on Caring for Foster Children, we learned about the 13,000 kids in Foster Care in Michigan. 3,586 kids are waiting to be adopted in Michigan. There is a real need in our community for Foster and Adoptive Parents. In our church, several families have fostered and adopted. At the Slice of Life, families from our church community shared their stories about engaging the foster care system and the adoption process. Pastor Shaun Walker and others are available for questions and to assist you should you choose to engage in caring for orphans or start an adoption process.
We have recently partnered with the Washtenaw County Foster Closet.
A Free Preschool for 4 year-olds
God is on the move in our midst, and we hope you can both see it and experience it. The church board and the pastoral staff have been discerning and praying about what’s next in the formation of our community and church. Specifically, we have been thinking about how we can socially engage in justice in our community and county. This discerning and praying has led us to consider partnering with the Washtenaw County and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and others to open a free preschool for low-income families through the county’s Great Start Readiness Program. We are at the feasibility phase in this dream and idea, so we want to invite you to join us in prayer, ideation, and discernment on how we might serve this underserved and vulnerable community within our county. We will be forming a working group to help explore this opportunity. If we could realize this dream and idea, it would be a way for us to join God in God’s activity and work restoring and healing the world through quality preschool education and care for kids whose families need reliable and quality care.
We have been inspired by the work of Geoffery Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone.
Forgiving Medical Debt
Vineyard Church, in partnership with RIP Medical Debt on July 2, 2019 completed the purchase of $2.9 million of medical debt — and forgiven it — with a donation of just $18,113. This transaction clears the medical debt responsibility for 2,120 individuals living in Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Livingston, Monroe, Oakland, and Wayne counties in Southeast Michigan.
Ending the Cash Bail System
We are increasing our awareness about and starting to engage the issues surrounding the use of cash bail in our criminal justice system. As a church community, we recently raised money to support someone’s release from incarceration because they couldn’t afford the costs associated with their incarceration. As we engaged this system, we discovered that others are incarcerated not because they are guilty but because they can’t post bail. We are at the early stages of this potential social engagement, and we would love to partner with others who care about this issue.
Ending Mass Incarceration
During our September Slice of Life on the issues of Mass Incarceration, we learned about how people of faith can engage the issue of mass incarceration in our country. We were able to meet with Judy Patterson Wenzel, author of the book Light from the Cage, and hear about her work in prisons. We were also invited to serve those incarcerated by participating in the Staying in Closer Touch program from the Children’s Literacy Network.
Recommended Books: Here are few books to help you engage the conversation: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, Rethinking Incarceration by Dominique DuBois Gilliard.
Human Impact of Immigration Reform & Debate
The church board and the pastoral team have agreed to become a financial sponsor of the Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary (WCS) movement. WCS is an interfaith coalition of congregations and individuals throughout Washtenaw County who want to support immigrants and their families in our community. The group is led by the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) and the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR). Our church will not be a site for sanctuary.