In the early 2000s, Broadway United Methodist Church had a series of popular outreach programs, including a food pantry, after-school program, clothing ministry/thrift store, and a summer youth program that served up to 250 children per day.
Today, these programs have vanished, and it’s no accident. “They’ve been killed off,” writes Robert King in a fascinating profile of the transformation for Faith and Leadership. “In many cases, they were buried with honors. But those ministries, staples of the urban church, are all gone from Broadway. Kaput.”
“One of the things we literally say around here is, ‘Stop helping people.’” says Rev. Mike Mather, the church’s pastor. “I’m serious.”
Although Mather was the first to initiate many of these programs, with efforts going back as far as the late 1980s, after a series of circumstances, including several community tragedies, he began to believe that a new approach was needed. “I started paying attention to what they really cared about,” he says. (more…)