WILMINGTON — About 100 people were at Sugartree Ministry Center for an informal Sunday evening event named “Communion: A Forum on Homelessness”.
There was a cross-section of individuals present, including those who are served by Sugartree Ministries, interested citizens, a number of church leaders, and several public officials.
“I’m very grateful to all who took time out of their busy schedules to come and break bread with us to build a stronger community. We know that to better serve our brothers and sisters in need, it will require God’s guidance and everyone working together with a singleness of heart,” Sugartree Ministries Director Lee Sandlin said Monday.
Prior to a free meal of soup and sandwiches Sunday, Sandlin recommended the following approach: “Let’s not talk about each other; let’s talk to each other.”
He went on to say there already had been a win that evening when two attendees spoke with each other “about how to help, how to serve, how to love.”
Allen Willoughby, Sugartree Ministries’ prior director, gave the prayer before the meal. In it he expressed gratitude for a community where churches pull together to help the homeless, poor and sick, including the homeless shelters and other places in town reaching out to help people.
In a News Journal interview to publicize the Communion event, Sandlin had indicated he was pleased to hear a person say at a prior meeting that they don’t want to move the problem of homelessness, they want to solve it.
In that same interview, Sandlin mentioned social media criticism of Sugartree Ministries that he said stereotypes people served by the street ministry as the lazy and those who feel entitled.
“The truth is that’s not our folks. Our people have fractured lives, mental illness. They need to be triaged and healed,” said Sandlin.
He added in his capacity as Sugartree Ministries director, he has hardly met any people who are able-bodied and yet choose not to work.
Instead, those receiving services at Sugartree Ministry Center need rehabilitation and counseling, he said.
Public officials spotted at the homelessness event Sunday included Wilmington City Councilman Mike Snarr, Wilmington police officer Josh Gibson, Wilmington Parks & Recreation Director Jermaine Isaac, two Clinton County Health Department officials including Health Commissioner Pamela Walker Bauer and Director of Nursing Monica Wood, and Clinton County Municipal Judge Mike Daugherty.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.