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Saturday, 10 May 2008

Undercover Adventure

I occasionally help with charity events when I can find the time. I've been wanting to help with a food bank or something related. But unfortunately, the only food bank in Antelope Valley is the Grace Resource Center, run by a local religious group. The first page of their website is not too bad, a little churchy, but not too bad. But a couple of statements in their charter have in the past put me off from inquiring about helping with any food drives.

The general purpose includes:

  1. The main purpose of this organization is to demonstrate the love of Jesus to the poor and needy in a tangible way by providing food and other resources.
  2. This will be a Christian ministry devoted to the spiritual as well as physical needs of the poor and needy with the salvation message given at every opportunity. However, the distribution of resources will not be subject to a required presentation of the Gospel.
  3. The organization will provide opportunity for hands-on ministry involvement of individuals and groups from churches of the area.
  4. This organization will be known as a Christian ministry of the combined efforts of several churches.
  5. The scope of the services will include all of the Antelope Valley area.
  6. This organization will be called GRACE RESOURCES.
  7. This organization will be governed by officers and directors initially elected by the Steering Committee.
  8. The officers and directors will be professing Christians who regularly attend a local Bible-believing Church.
  9. Funding resources for the organization will include churches, individuals, and businesses.
  10. This organization is not now, nor ever will be, a church.
I've highlighted some of the reasons why I have been reluctant to even inquire about helping. Even when they advertise they need people to volunteer at food drives. This year, I'm helping out at work for various volunteer efforts and this was one of the volunteer projects. Since I've been curious about this place, this was the perfect opportunity to check them out since there would be a large crowd helping out with the food drive.

Every year, one of the Post Offices collect food along their routes and donates it to a food bank. Unfortunately, the only food bank in Antelope valley is the religious Grace Resource Center. The Post Office handled the church-state separation issue well by requiring the drivers to drop the food off at a collection point where any food bank could pick up the food and deliver it to their location. Unfortunately, there is not a nonreligious food bank in the local area to pick up the food. I also wonder what the Grace people would do if a secular charity would show up to pick up the food. Heh Heh Heh.

I helped load the food into the trailer and trucks and spent the afternoon delivering the food to the food bank. I got there after things started and stayed until nearly the end. It started to look like they were getting somewhat churchy so I quietly left. Also most of the people had left already.

Since they also had people choosing to do their community service there, I think any sort of churchy activity was rightly toned down. They seemed very professional while I was there and not proselytizing anyone.

I think that I would do the food drive again. But I have the feeling that their hot meals served for the needy are one big church service and I definitely would not want to be a part of this. Number 8 in their charter concerns me because this is usually code for nondenominational dominionist leaning churches. It would be very sad that the only place where homeless folks can get a meal is also a place that wants to shove their religion in their face. Perhaps I can volunteer one weekend just to find out. After all, I did not identify myself as an unbeliever. This may be an interesting future project.

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