Just as there are many ways to experience the Transcendent through worship at Emmanuel, there are many ways to work with Emmanuel Church to transform the world. We are a Christian community that is inspired and challenged by the radical social justice mandates of both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian testament. Our history of social action embodies the concept that, when it comes to community, one plus one is so much more than two.
Our fourth rector, Elwood Worcester, developed and led a social justice and healing ministry that began with a new and controversial community-oriented approach to treating tuberculosis and addiction, which culminated in the formation in 1905 of the Emmanuel Movement, a precursor of modern therapy, 12-step, and self-help programs.
That tradition continued in the 1980s with some of Boston’s first healing services for AIDS-afflicted communities, and continues today with a shelter for homeless women; a program called “Café Emmanuel,” which brings LGBT elders together for a weekly meal and entertainment in a safe environment; and more than a dozen 12-step programs. We also host Ecclesia Ministries’ weekly program, Common Art, which offers homeless Bostonians an opportunity to make many kinds of art.
Two of our priority outreach ministries in recent years have been financial and volunteer support of the non-profit MusiConnects, which provides in-depth, holistic instruction on string instruments with some of the most vulnerable Boston Public School children, as a way to provide enhance learning and social skills, and improve the life of the community; and the diocese’s B-SAFE Program, which provides five weeks of day camp for more than 550 youth, and summer jobs for 100 teenagers in the poorest neighborhoods of Boston.
In response to the closing of the Long Island Shelter and to the urgent need of those un-housed, Emmanuel has joined the response of the Religious Leaders for Long Island Refugees in opening day shelters. We are honored to extend hospitality to people in need of relief from the cold in the form of an emergency-relief day center on Mondays and Fridays, 8 am – 1 pm through Good Friday, April 3. For more than a century Emmanuel has been actively welcoming people who are very poor or struggling with addiction and other diseasess. We have programs in place to provide safe and dignified hospitality to Boston’s most vulnerable adults every day of the week.
The Rev. Christen Mills and Mr. Raymond Hamilton serve as paid staff, assisted by trained volunteers. City Mission Society is steering fundraising to support the day centers at Emmanuel and Old South Church. Checks should be sent to may be sent to the City Mission Society of Boston, 14 Beacon Street #203, Boston MA 02108 with a note: for Boston Warm.
We are grateful to the interfaith coalition of lay and clergy leaders and congregations and service providers from across Greater Boston for coming together to respond to the humanitarian crisis precipitated by the sudden closure of the bridge to Long Island. See also our Volunteer page and follow our progress at http://bostonwarm.weebly.com or http://www.facebook.com/bostonwarm .
The Rev. Christen H. Mills’ report, Feb. 12, 2015
Boston Warm @ Emmanuel Church has been open every Monday and Friday for the past three weeks, even in the snow and the extreme cold. Every Monday and Friday around 25 guests visit Emmanuel for coffee, lunch, rest, and warmth, and the numbers of guests grows each time we open. In total we have had around 50 different people visit at least once. 50 people who each come with their own unique story. Most of our guests are men, but a few women have been stopping in regularly. Some stay in shelters overnight and some sleep on the streets. Some have been homeless for a long time and some are newly unhoused and are still learning to navigate this new circumstance in their life. Some come to sleep on the stage in the parish hall (a warm, safe, and welcoming place to sleep is hard to find during the day) and some come to be social and spend time with their friends. What we tell each of our volunteers is that the most important thing they can do is to sit and talk with folks: to listen to their stories, to hear about the things that they enjoy doing as well as the challenges they are facing in their day to day lives. When I see our volunteers talking, listening, and opening up the space for stories to be shared, it is clear that important ministry is happening.
I am so grateful for everyone at Emmanuel Church for your work in making this ministry possible. We have been blessed by everyone who has volunteered, donated, and helped to organize the day shelter. We have also been blessed by the biggest gift of all that you have given-space. I have heard over and over from the men and women who visit Boston Warm @ Emmanuel just how appreciative they are to have a place to be, especially during the snow and the cold. By opening up your parish hall you are helping to create a community where all people are welcomed, respected, and warm. Thanks to your generosity, we will be able to provide this space until April 3rd. We hope to continue through the end of April if staff and volunteers are willing and we are able to raise enough money to cover expenses. If you would like to help out Boston Warm please visit our website for more information about donating and volunteering: bostonwarm.weebly.com.
Thank you so much for all that you are doing!