Cherith Brook

(816) 241-8047


3308 E. 12th St. Kansas City, MO 64127

Practicing God ‘s Mercy & Gospel Resistance

Vol. 3 No. 2 Ordinary Time 2009

Cherith Brook
by Chris Brennan Homiak

Working for Restorative Justice
Some of the friends we welcome regularly for meals and showers are women who are being abused and exploited through prostitution. Many times we have seen them bruised and bleeding, and heard their stories of rape and beatings. As women, they are among the most vulnerable of our friends who are homeless. They are also the ones most targeted, shamed and blamed when it comes to prostitution, or commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). The average age of entry into CSE is 12, and at least three out of four women being exploited were sexually abused as children. Yet they are the ones most harshly punished, while the men with resources (johns and pimps) are rarely held responsible. The echoes of “the woman caught in adultery” in John 8 are disturbing and enlightening. Because CSE is quite visible in our neighborhood (although just as common in more affluent parts of the city), an aspiring politician recently started rallying support for a geographical ban ordinance. Women would no longer have to be caught committing a crime in order to be charged; now they could be given a felony for simply walking in the wrong neighborhood! Judges would attach these geographical bans to their probation terms, and police could implement as they see fit. Women would be the primary targets of these bans, as they walk the streets while johns stay in cars. We learned of this effort a few days before a final vote on a resolution at city council. Despite our pleas and protests for more time, it passed unanimously. Frustrated, we worked with Veronica’s Voice (a local organization that works with women in CSE, and is headed by several survivors of CSE) to start offering restorative justice alternatives before this geographical ban resolution becomes city law. We shared at a few intense neighborhood council meetings, pleaded with those in power, and wrote some letters to the editor. We then partnered with Veronica’s Voice in launching the Kansas City STEP (Stop Trafficking and Exploitation of the Prostituted) Alliance, a network of organizations and individuals supporting a focus on deterrent and rehabilitative strateby He Qi gies for all sides of CSE.

So Elijah did according to the word of the Lord; he went and lived by the Cherith Brook...and the ravens brought him bread… I Kings 17

by He Qi

Weekly Schedule

Who are we?
Community—Cherith Brook is a residential Christian community committed to sharing table fellowship with strangers, and all our resources with one another. We have found our inspiration from the early church, the Church of the Savior, and the Catholic Worker. Mercy—Our daily lives are structured around practicing the works of mercy as found in Jesus’ teachings. We are committed to regularly feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, visiting the prisoner and the sick in the name of Jesus. Peacemaking—As followers of Jesus, we understand our lives to be centered in God’s Shalom. Cherith Brook strives to be a “school” for peacemaking in all its dimensions: political, communal, and personal, working constantly to undo poverty, racism and militarism. These three orbs can be summed up as the struggle to connect with the God of life. We pray that Cherith Brook is a space where all of us—the broken—can come to learn and relearn the ways of Jesus; a place to struggle together for God’s call of love, mercy, peace and justice.

as teens, counseling, housing and job training are all essential to their recovery. Along with other concerned community organizations, we have just recently been invited to the table with the City Prosecutor and County Legislator, who have given a few signs of being open to more restorative approaches. This next month or so will be key in showing whether the city will increase punishment of the most vulnerable, or if they will create new possibilities for real recovery and transformation. If you live in the KC area, we hope you’ll become part of the STEP Alliance, contact City leaders, and join us in our efforts with Veronica’s Voice to support the true victims.

Last WED of each month 2nd SAT of each month

Since the launch of the STEP Alliance at the end of May, we helped host a Clarification meeting with an expert from Chicago, as well as two Street Outreach trainings led by Veronica’s Voice. We learned more about the dynamics of CSE, as well as how restorative and rehabilitative strategies not only cost less, but are also more effective in reducing recidivism. Our Ginger Ferguson and Chris and Katie Brenproposal includes mandatory, fee-based nan Homiak organize for the STEP Alliance “John School” which both educates the with Veronica’s Voice Founder, Kristy male offenders and helps fund services for Childs. For more about Kristy’s work, visit the exploited women. Because many of . these women are homeless and entered CSE


Darkness to Light
abused. My value was reduced to my vagina and nothing else about me mattered to anyone. Some days, most of those dark days, not even to me.

by Barbara Rhyne-Tucker
in my own filth, reeling and in pain from yet one more act of degradation. No words of sympathy ever came. Just “how much money did you get?”, “how much dope do you want?”, then a flurry of phone calls and activity, then the tense, unbearable waiting. Finally, the dope. My body sick with the want of it. My emotions, out of control. My need to be gratefully numb, overpowering me. He moves deliberately slow….him, taking the first hit. Is it real? Is it real? Finally! My turn, his turn, my turn, his turn. On and on until there is no more. We have to have more! We cannot stop! There is no choice, so out into the darkness walk I. We tell ourselves this is the last time. We will stop after this. Freezing; one more time. Raining; one more time. Blistering hot; one more time. Day or night; one more time. Dangerous wee hours of the morning …one ….. more …. time. I AM AFRAID and the addiction lies, “One more time”.

House Notes
Some of you may feel we lack focus: In one issue of our paper we discuss immigration; another, showers for the homeless. On one page we write about activism, turn the page and we are gardening. We confess to struggling against the pull of that fragmentation. Yet we are clearer on our mission than appears at first glance. We are committed to answering the knock of strangers and neighbors. We are committed to responding with ways and means that embody the love and justice of God. This does not lend itself to a tidy program. Our guests come to us with many stories, needs and crises. When our lives become more deeply entangled, we recognize our responsibility to help, not with just their daily bread, but the injustice they may face. In this issue, we have included our recent work opposing a city ordinance that reflects the ongoing oppression of women in our society. Women who are sexually abused and groomed for prostitution from the age of 12, become, as adults, the target of stereotypes, unjust laws and excessive criminalization in our sex-addicted culture, while men are protected under that same system. We have also been clear from the beginning about our mission of peace; the gospel of Jesus is the gospel of peace. It requires us to place our duty to its truth above all others. Essential to this message is to refuse to harm others. A recent email from a church member with military connections stated, "When I have donated to Cherith Brook, I have assumed my donations went toward helping needy people. If any part of my donations are going toward anti-war efforts, I'll have to reconsider contributing to your organization.”

by Eric Garbison versation with patience, love and humility. While we admit weariness of some who mince words about "Just War Theories” and “lesser evil” while many suffer death, we continue to welcome all to the table to eat and to talk, debate and confess our common complicity. Our guests regenerate us. The first Monday of each month Sr. Agnes from Mount St. Scholastica spends the evening around our table and study. The next day she gives massages at showers. She has been dubbed “The Fingers of God” by those blessed by her healing touch. We have begun returning the favor, spending Sabbath time in Atchison and find her as delightful a host as she is a guest.


I have been lost in the dark….lost in my addiction….lost in my insanity, my pain, my grief. I have been lost, a throw away, a nothing. A child of the street.

A slave to the darkness was I.
I was visible to the tricks when they required sexual gratification but became invisible again after the fact. I was also invisible to them if we came across one another in public even though just days before they may have sworn to help me in any way they could. Many claimed to care, to love me, to be my friend yet only when they desired sex was I visible. Still, I welcomed them because the only relief from the physical agony of the street and my addiction was when I prostituted my body and was able to slip inside a cool or warm car. The only way I had to bathe was when a John got a seedy room for an hour. I had to put back on my filthy rags, more often than not throw away my shameful underpants, always carefully hiding them somewhere in the bathroom or stuffing them in my pocket so my “client” would not witness my personal decay. I would pass the time and cover the shame by praying “please God, let this be over soon”. I would hold onto the truth that the act brought the money that I, or we needed to get more crack and that meant that soon, very soon the agonizing pain of my being, of my existence would end shortly and I would once again be numb, gratefully numb. I would finally once again be dead inside and it was only in that death of mind and spirit in which I could comfortably dwell. It was the only time I was safe from myself and my conscious.

A slave to the darkness was I.
Most of the time, I was invisible to the “good people”. I was junky thin, reeking of death and despair, my withdrawing body shaking. I was dying slowly in full view and they would glance quickly over me, across my face, pretending they did not see me. My fellow humans would walk past me. I did not exist. I was invisible. My sins too great even to be…….

A slave to the darkness was I.
When the “good people” did see me they forced me to become invisible again. I was not even considered human by some. I was denied a place to sit or rest. I was denied water on hot summer days when my thirst was so great I could no longer swallow and my exhausted body would almost faint. I was denied a place to refresh myself or relieve myself, instead using bushes and running behind buildings and risking arrest for my need. Debased and ashamed I sought places to rest only to be chased away again and again with the threat of imprisonment if I did not “move on”. I was told NO you cannot come into this store, NO you cannot shield yourself from bitter wind, NO you cannot get warm here, seek shade here, or ever, ever rest. You must make yourself invisible again because you are too disgusting. You do not belong. Not fit to view or consider. You are not a human-being. You are an animal.

A slave to darkness was I.
There is no choice you see. We have to have more. An endless cycle of “one more time”, “one more hit”. When at last I can endure no more and my body collapses, after hours of sleep deeper than death I awake to my lover who looks at me and calls me whore. I run back to the street and bring him what he desires so he will stay with me. More money, more dope so we can forget that we are lost and dying in the dark. I am afraid because time is fleeting, one week, one month, one year, five then ten then on and on. A lifetime up in smoke, one hit at time, one more time.

We have had several friends interning with us this summer, some who have written of their Eric, Diana & Henri Garbison experience. And we have had amazing guests protesting at Blackwater (or Xe). who have become family. We thank God for the time we have had with folks like Charlie Shower Needs Moore, Jerome Harris, Mike Turner, Harlan Dunbar and Earl Alton. Their presence here has added faith, hope and love to our lives, not to mention joy. Our sense of friendship has surely deepened, even when things don’t work out the Jeans & Belts way we wish. We have done major work this spring and summer. We terraced our front lawn, doubling our garden space. Now our yard is splashed with color and beauty. Many of your hands have made light work and your presence good company.

(esp. men’s sizes 32-36) T-Shirts Underwear (esp. size 32-38) Women’s panties (esp. 4-7) Shampoo & Conditioner (large bottles) Razors Spray-On Deodorant Tube Socks Foot Powder Shoes Toothpaste & Brushes Tampons Ibuprofen Laundry Soap (he) Stamps Bus Passes

A slave to the darkness was I.
To some people though, I was quite visible. Predators saw me clearly even when I did my best to hide. They hunted me in the dark…..animals, hunting animals in the dark, on the street. These memories are too painful to recount. To be trapped by one of these meant rape, murder, or death… I spent a great deal of time running, hiding, afraid…….I’ve been raped, tortured, pimped and beaten. I have been emotionally and physically used and

A slave to darkness was I.
I remember, very clearly my reemergence from the dark. It was when I became visible to people like you. You know, those of you who see me as a troubled person, an addict, someone who needs help and deserves love. Those of you who see me as a lost daughter, a lost sister, a lost mother. Those of you whose love transcends those narrow, cruel societal views of me. Those of you who look into my face and say, “I see you and you are (continued on next page)

A slave to the darkness was I.
I was visible to other addicts, other street people. They recognized my despair and loneliness and they fed on it. I would provide money, cigarettes, food and shelter and dope to those who professed to be my friend. They, in return, would make promises then vanish with all that I owned onto the darkness. Even those who said they loved me, in the end, encouraged me sell my body while they waited for me in the dark. I step from the car still lost

We recently opened up the former Kafe Kiskeya side of the store front to serving breakfast, while our guests wait their turn for the showers. The new tile we laid finishes off the space with a touch of class and sense of completion. We continue to have lots of repairs and upgrades on “Anti-war” is a label filled with associations these old buildings. Please continue sending and biases. Preferring to define ourselves, we state publicly that we strive to be pro-gospel. We hands, skills and monies so that we can move strive to be part of the “conspiracy of goodness”, the space forward. using the “weapons of the Spirit.” We don't see We need more volunteers, always. We have the connection between the good news of God's had a flock of young adults and are amazed at love in Jesus the Christ and the total destruction their hunger for alternatives to mainstream socithat is war. We don't see the connection between ety and corporate Christianity. We wonder the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ, the where are the middle-aged, the professionals and sacraments, the Reign of God and killing the en- the retired. Please come. There are lots of ways emy. to partner with our work. So let us know if you French Reformed pastor, Andre Trocme wrote, “Because Jesus is the Redeemer, no one can any longer save by killing or kill to save. Life alone, life given, not life extracted from others, can save a persons life.” Having said that, part of what peace means to us is a radical commitment to continue the conwould like to visit us, or if we can come to preach, teach or share about our work. Our other needs are spread throughout these pages. Please take the time to read about them. And as you read, pray, pray, pray … On earth as it is in heaven.



Juanita’s Story, Part II
by Juanita Davenport
Hello, I’m Juanita. Since October 8, 2008 I have made a lot changes in my life. I decided to turn my life over to God and ask for help. It has been a rough ride. I went to treatment at Imani House in Kansas City, Missouri . I was so ready for a change. Ron Hughes told me to come and do what my heart said to do, which was to surrender and clean house. God’s grace and mercy, I have my own place. And yes, I’m still in church and going to meetings. And yes, I still go to Imani House just to have a peace of mind. Folks from Cherith Brook check Today I have to learn how to accept what God has planned for me. I on me from time to time. Today I’m believe that he wants me to help others glad that God stepped in and showed me who are still suffering, by remembering the way to live and the guidelines that I need to have in place in my life. where I came from, and knowing that God can heal me. So I must let him heal Today I’ve been clean and sober. It works if we do the foot So today I am not homeless anymore. I was work and say please in the blessed with my own apartment. morning and thank you at night, I have been clean now for nine ask for forgiveness today and months. I have people in my life not be ashamed that things do who I can talk with openly about get hard at times. But today I don’t have to use because of it. anything. My oldest brother, I have a social worker who has Ottaway, and his friend Pamela, my best interests at heart. So I came from Oklahoma for a visit give thanks to everyone who and treated me like a person. I believed in me, and continue have recovery people in my life believing in me today! I know today. My friend Felicia is so that for Christmas I want to be dear to me and she has been able to provide my grandchilclean too, one day at a time. Yes, I still have nightmares dren with a good one this year. I have five grandsons ranging about my past. But today I love in age from 4 through 13, and a my new way of thinking. My granddaughter who is 4 years doctor has me on meds to help me not to use. My friend Tina old. I’m going to keep this has me call her when I’m feeling apartment so that I can make a sad or angry. My sponsor, Betsy, difference in their lives. Today, stays on me about facing my by staying clean and sober, I inner child, who gets lost someam saying that if I choose God times, and helping me fit in toand believe in Him, if I pray day. I know that I must love and receive His love, grace and mercy, He will open doors that myself. only He can open. So I must not My mother hasn’t trade what He has given me that changed at all. But my grandis so special. Blessings come children love me, and my daughdown as prayers go up. ter trusts me again. Today I me. Wherever I go I know that he is don’t try to buy them. I know that God I will celebrate one year on has helped me understand that me being there for me through everything good October 8, 2009. On Sunday October 18 raped wasn’t my fault. It took me a long and bad. Ron Hughes helped me to start everyone can come out to the Northeast reading more and helped me to look time to understand the difference beAA Meeting at 9th & Gladstone to hear inside myself to finish some things that me share my story. (Contact us at tween forgiving and forgetting. So I have been honest with myself and oth- I hadn’t finished. Today I just work to Cherith Brook if you would like to parstay clean and to be present for my ers. I still have a daughter who suffers ticipate in this celebration of Juanita’s with her addiction and it hurts for me to grandchildren. recovery!) see her go down that same lonely road I have lost a lot, but I never lost of darkness, where there’s pain and suf- the love that God has for me. Today, by Juanita Davenport is a long-time friend of
Cherith Brook Community.

(continued from previous page) beautiful to me” with an understanding smile. Those of you who dared to touch this leper. Those of you whose loving actions said “I love you and I am here to help because you deserve help, not hate.”

I child of The Light am I.

fering. It’s hard for me to see her do that. They say only 2% of addicts will get into recovery and remain spiritually fit.

Sometimes I acted as if I did not hear you. Sometimes I believed I was not worthy and ran away, back deep into darkness. But always, even when I ran I hid, like a starving child, your love, deep in my heart and in the darkest of dark I would remember this love and I child of The Light am I. yearn for more….so your love acted as I did not become visible to myself all at light to guide me back to His Children. once. Perhaps the pain of who I had I learned to seek you as you sought me. become would have killed me were it I learned to seek God……I learned to so…..I could not look in the mirror at see myself through first your eyes, then first, even to try to straighten myself out His eyes. Then I learned they were the to look presentable. I was afraid of that same. His heart was in your heart and I lost, hunted person in the mirror. That began to BECOME. I began to heal, I person who was trying to kill the real began to change….I REMEMBERED me. The person who was burying me WHO I AM…..A Child of God. Woralive, coldly deaf to her/my screams of thy. You taught me who I am. You terror. You saw these things, you Chil- showed me God’s Love so in a way that dren of The Lord, and you continued to I could understand, then embrace, then reach out. To smile, to look in my desire, then seek, then live. You foreyes…To Remind Me Who I gave me and that taught me God forAm…..and slowly, oh so slowly, I begives me. gan this journey to remembrance. I child of The Light am I. Slowly, one meal, one bath, one meeting, one service, one word of hope, one action of love at a time you Children, you Saints, brought me to The Light. Barbara Rhyne-Tucker is a friend of To Love. To God.
Cherith Brook Community.

Izabelle’s Song
by Izabelle Cool-Abbey
You and I are sister and brother You say you want to go off on your own Go with Jesus in his path With heart and feet and soul So go in peace to love and serve the Lord Alleluia alleluia alleluia alleluia alleluia So you walk in Jesus’ path everyday Come with me in Jesus’ name
Izabelle Cool-Abbey, daughter of Sarah Cool, lives at Cherith Brook.

House Needs
Sandwich Meat (no bologna) Sandwich Bags Mayonnaise Sliced Cheese Peanut Butter & Jelly Bananas & Oranges Coffee, Sugar, Creamer Vinegar (gallon size for cleaning) Baking Soda Dish Soap Toilet Paper Milk, Eggs, Butter Black Beans & Brown Rice Canning Jars Salt & Pepper Shakers Folding Tables (standard rectangular size) Clear Plastic Restaurant Cups Water Pitchers Hand Held Mixer Industrial Refrigerator

For several weeks this summer, many community members and volunteers spent countless hours on a tiling project for the floors in the clothing closet, one of the guest rooms, a hallway, and what is now the new kitchen space on the café side. Pictured here are Micah and Eric working tirelessly! The new floors are beautiful!


Their Story Is Our Story

by Brandon Pomeroy We have to practice. That is how we know and how we learn. By growing closer to our neighbors we grow closer to God. Henri Nouwen writes in The Inner Voice of God: "Every time you do something that comes from your need for acceptance, affirmation, or affection, and every time you do something that makes these needs grow, you know that you are not with God. These needs will never be satisfied; they will only increase when you yield to them. But every time you do something for the glory of God, you will know God's peace in your heart and find rest there." I have to keep practicing. Perform acts of mercy for God’s glory, not mine. It is another Friday, another day in the clothes closet. One of the regulars brought him in. They had met on the street that morning and like the Good Samaritan he brought him in for help. It was his first time there so he needed help figuring out how the process worked. Check in, eat at the table, relax, pick out clean clothes if needed, shower if desired. Together we found a nice pair of khakis that were miraculously long enough for him. A fresh button up shirt and a shower, some hair gel and he looked good as new. He wanted nice looking clothes. I assumed he was going to a job interview or to work. Just out of earshot he made a call. Sober for three years, he had fallen for the old demon alcohol. Humbled and sorrowful, he begged his wife's forgiveness. He asked someone in the room for the address of where he was and by the end of the morning she had arrived to gather him in. In the meantime he had had several loving conversations and encouragements with several people. I wonder about him and still pray for him, that he gained strength and faith from the grace that he experienced that morning. From the angel on the streets to the spiritual works of mercy that he received at home, he has another chance. Everyone on the streets, in prison, or flopping in someone’s basement has a story. The story is rarely what we think it is going to be when we first meet them. And it is important that we do meet them. Their story becomes our story.


I didn’t know right away that his eyesight was poor. I knew that he didn't have teeth as I had watched him demonstrate that he could eat pecans with his gums. He said that his teeth had been stolen long ago and that there was no way to come up with $300 for another set. He didn't wear glasses and didn't really squint, but he just wasn't getting anywhere in the clothes closet. Kind of staring and fumbling. I helped him find an acceptable pair of pants, a shirt that he liked. Then we went through every pair of shoes. "Are those size 13?" "No, they say size 9". "Are those size 13?" "No they are size 10 and I think they might look better on a female." “How about those?” He really couldn’t see. I tried to picture how he made it out on the streets; old, nearly blind, no teeth. Surely he had untreated medical problems as well. He was intent on finding a pair of shoes and he did finally find a pair that he liked. Although they didn't look any less worn than the ones on his feet. Next we found socks, underwear, t-shirt, razor, wash cloth, toothbrush. It was a rainy day so he wanted a rain jacket and located a new duffel bag. He was so pleased by the end of the endeavor; a full stomach, fresh clothes and clean after a warm shower. Working in the closet gives me a chance to clothe the naked Christ in a way that just can't be done by taking my worn out clothes to Goodwill. Nor can it be done by writing a check to the March of Dimes. Too many degrees of separation between the giver and the receiver weaken the interaction for both sides. Meeting, interacting with, getting to know, smelling, touching, and serving my less fortunate brothers and sisters brings them up and me down (or vice versa in some cases) so we can meet as equals. It brings us one tiny step closer to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s concept of the Beloved Community. St Francis said, "We do not know what we haven’t practiced." We must practice justice and mercy, not just read about it or be vaguely in favor of it. We have to put our bodies in it. We Brandon Pomeroy enjoys volunteerhave to experience poverty and addiction ing at Cherith Brook, getting to and hopelessness and homelessness and know friends who come for showers abuse with our bodies, with our senses. & meals.

Something New, Something Old, Something Borrowed, Something Cold
I am Alexandria Phillips and I have just completed my first year at Spelman College, in Atlanta, Georgia. Spelman is classified as a historically black college/ university (HBCU). I have wanted to go to Spelman since my aunt and uncle moved to Atlanta when I was 10 years old. It was the only school I applied to in the fall of my senior year at Liberty High School. My mother instantly told me “not to worry” about tuition for college because we would make a way with no way.

by Alexandria Phillips

caring, loving, and understanding person. The next part speaks of something old. Not necessarily meaning age. It’s the time I’ve gotten to spend with my grandmother, mother, and sister. My family has been the carpenter in my life. They have shaped my experiences and my mind to become the woman I am today. I owe a great deal of my successes to my mother. This may be my last extended period of time that I spend living with my mother. My family is the something old I have As it turns out, God did provide a been enjoying and soaking up throughout way. I was granted a full-ride 4-year schol- my stay here this summer. Seeing how arship, the Bonner Scholarship, to Spelman Cherith Brook has changed my mother’s due to my mother’s and my own life long outlook on life has further inspired me to efforts to serve her community and all the do the same! Here we share everything so in people of the world. For this scholarship I essence everything is something borrowed am to complete 280 hours of direct comfrom one another. When I was away at munity service during each school year and then another 280 hours during each three month summer break. This is what brought out my desire to pursue the internship here in the community. The title of my article came to my head as I realized that these four things could be translated as my “to-do list” for the summer. The something new I’m talking about are all the new people, friendships, places, and experiences that I have now been immersed in about half-way through this summer. It has been one of the most incredible, eye opening, and transforming experiences to which I have been exposed. The people that I have met are interesting people with hopes, dreams, and passions not much unlike my own. I have Alexandria & her sister, Izabelle, enjoy the come to call these people my friends and pool at Cherith Brook’s retreat this summer. look forward to seeing them every morning as I’m helping with showers and on Thursday evenings when they come for school, my mom told me that Cherith dinner. I actually find myself missing them Brook community members would be enwhen they don’t show up, because they tering into a common purse arrangement. make my day enjoyable. I love how I At the time, I’d never heard of such a thought that I was going to do my internthing, and the only piece of info I could ship this summer and “help people” and grasp is the fact that they would be pooling “do good stuff”, but I’m finding that they their money for the entire community and are the ones transforming me in to a more not for just themselves. It was astonishing

how much more I learned when I got here and realized the amount of work that the community members have put into the process so that the system runs smoothly and accurately. There is a more figurative explanation to the borrowing that goes on here. The love that we give others is borrowed because it is always returned. That is what keeps me going and growing with my intent to love more completely and without limits. The something cold speaks to the counter cultural living that is practiced here, more specifically the lack of frigid air. I never had A/C growing up. The first time I actually lived with A/C was my first year at college. I woke up with a sore throat and runny nose many a time. Those are two of the awful side effects to living in an artificial environment. I have learned so much about how to make my carbon footprint smaller since being here. A new process I learned (and am still getting the hang of ) is using “grey water.” We recycle water from our showers and sinks for the toilet water instead of using a fresh water flush after each use. Six 250 gallon rain water catcher totes were installed just before I arrived. The work perfectly to water our entire garden everyday in place of using the public water, and it also keeps the water bill down, as well. Overall, my stay here has been inspirational and educational. I hope to take my experiences back to school and everyone else I touch in my life. I want to say thank you and that I appreciate everything everyone has done at Cherith Brook for me. That thanks goes to the community members, as well as the friends that visit us everyday, because they have taught me just as much about themselves and even more about myself.
Alexandria is Sarah Cool’s daughter, and was a Summer Intern at Cherith Brook. She is a sophomore at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA.


Blackwater Report
This past April our community met up with many other Catholic Worker Houses to play, eat, worship, and learn together. These “Faith and Resistance” retreats culminate in some sort of nonviolent action, as we feel called to physically stand in the way of whatever injustice we agree to address. It is a way for us speak out against evils that, in many cases, go unchallenged.


by Nick Pickrell

Frank’s Song
I used to like drinkin’ whiskey And partying all night long Before I knew what hit me My pretty lil’ lady was gone CHORUS: But the Lord’s gonna turn it around Lord The Lord’s gonna turn it around Praise you heavenly Father the Lord Never lets us down

by Frank K.

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were spreading a movement that was diametrically opposed to the very systems— both religious and political—that were in place then. The Roman Empire, along with religious leaders, persecuted the Christians because they were breaking unjust laws and were proclaiming Jesus as “Lord” instead of Caesar. Jesus and his followers were killed for participating in acts of peace, love, justice, forgiveness, reconciliation, and community. In other words, On this particular weekend, we learned about the privatization of our mili- they were killed because they were acting tary and police force and what affect it has out the Kingdom of God. This new Way on the poor both here and abroad. After a upset so many, not only because of what has already been mentioned, but also beweekend of prayer and reflection, we decause the rich were called to give their cided to act on behalf of those living in goods to the poor. Also, the powerful were war-torn areas, as well as those living in called to become servants, while the poor high crime neighborhoods like our own. Nick Pickrell is a Community Member We took a stand against corporations that were lifted up and brought into a family have a profit motive for continued war and that gave them value, dignity, purpose, and at Cherith Brook Community. conflict, against corporations that can’t be a home. People in power were against this movement because they would not be in are too busy with life to ever stand up for held accountable for their actions in any power within it. something. Some even look down upon US or international court of law, against those who sacrifice their time to stand in corporations that have massive human Everything we do in this life afsolidarity with the hurting, shouting things fects the poor in one way or another. rights violations on their records. like, “Get a real job,” as they whiz by in When we go to war, people and their cars. It saddens me that this seems all countries are devastated. When we live like kings, others are left too common. with nothing with which to care As Christians, shouldn’t everyfor themselves. When we ignore thing be flipped around? Shouldn’t we be the poor, they lose their humanity the ones willing to make time to love those (and so do we). When we let cor- who are hurting? Shouldn’t we be the porations take over for the miliones willing to suffer alongside those who tary and police, the poor are fur- are tossed aside and neglected? Shouldn’t ther exploited through continued the question we ask be, “Why are you too conflict and increased violence, busy to stand up and sacrifice for your with no hope of relief. All of this poor sisters and brothers?” I think that it’s is happening now. So we are the world that has truly gone mad when Cherith Brook Community Members attended the Mid- called by God to offer relief to the people become so wrapped up in busyness west CW Retreat in April. Participants staged a protest poor through our own willingness that they lose the eye to see the marginalagainst Blackwater, also known as Xe, located in to suffer beside them. We are ized and broken, the poor and neglected, Mt. Carroll, IL. also called to bring the exploiters the widow and the orphan, the elderly and into the same family through the forgotten. After all, what is more imporOne hundred of us gathered at a hard but freeing word to let go of possestant? Who is it we are called to serve? large field at Blackwater Co., a space desions and titles, and stand beside those Money or God? We can only serve one voted to war and violence, in order to rewho are poor and marginalized in this new master, so the question now is whom will claim it for things that are life giving-family where there is no Jew nor Gentile, we serve? The costs are high, and we hospitals, schools, gardens, and playcan’t ride the fence. Either we take up our grounds. In the process of this nonviolent black nor white, Arab nor American, terrorist nor freedom fighter. cross and follow Jesus in his Way, or we action, some people ended up getting arturn away with our riches and titles in tact. I was one of those arrested at rested for peace and justice—the very Blackwater, and it’s not something I say as thing to which Jesus called us. a way to boast. I say it to bring to light the To learn more about Blackwater, or Xe, visit The early Christians were also their website . fact that we live in a world where people arrested for being social agitators. They

One night I called my babies Mom says you can’t see me I got down on my knees And the Holy Spirit moved in me I threw away the bottle The Lord removed that demon in me I picked up the Word of God And the Lord set me free Now I see my babies

I had to tell my babies Daddy needs to go away As I looked down on their tear filled eyes I said Daddy’s love will never stray

They are the love of my life I gave it all to God And now I have a brand new life But the Lord does turn it around Lord
cook meals, sort donations, host showers, cut hair, launder clothing, garden, electrical work, simple carpentry, assemble sack dinners, redo kitchen cabinets, mail newsletter, clean house, general maintenance, fencing, tuck pointing, trim work, & more...

I tried to get my lady back And she said I am so sorry Then one night she told my baby I’ve got somebody

The Lord does turn it around I gave it all to God And now I have a brand new life

Frank K. is part of our extended community. He also volunteers his time with us and attends morning prayers.

Day By Day

by Steve Sheridan

A Tribute to Brother Louis Roddeman of Holy Family House, KCMO
Day by day, day by day, Brother Louis Roddeman prepares meals and helps serve the many children of God that come seeking Christ’s hospitality at Holy Family Catholic Worker House in Kansas City, Missouri. Brother Louis is the first to say that there are lots and lots of loving hearts and hands from many extended family members of Holy Family who help out everyday. His community provides 200 meals, six days a week, along with lots of coffee and LaMar’s donuts four mornings a week, all of this 48 weeks out of every year. What a blessing Brother Louis is and has been and will be to lots of brothers and sisters who come seeking mercy, friendship and hope at Holy Family. I hope and pray and trust that Christ will continue to bless the Holy Family community with people of all ages who have loving and creative gifts to share. Hopefully we all will continue to follow Jesus and take Jesus’ words into our hearts and minds and remember Jesus’ message, “Do this in remembrance of me”.
Steve Sheridan has volunteered at Holy Family House weekly since becoming a Community Member at Cherith Brook.


We Have Another World in View Welcome Home, Mark Mize
by Jodi Garbison ing me and unfolding for Mark. Mark was in good spirits and continued to be hopeful until the end. In one of our last conversations he said, “I’m going home OR I’m going home. I want to be released and go home because I’m innocent or go home to God.” peal claiming his innocence. A letter from Mark in April informed me that he had lost his final appeal but would continue to work with his lawyer on seeking clemency. He didn’t want life in prison. I didn’t receive any more letters from Mark. I got an e-mail from someone who had gotten the news of Mark’s scheduled execution date. Mark’s mother, Erlene, said she heard it on the news when she was checking the weather. How sad a mother should hear such news from the radio!


Shortly after we sent out our last newsletter, I got to visit my friend, Mark Mize, on Georgia’s Death Row. I met Mark when we lived in Atlanta. One Saturday a month we would take the hour-long trip to Jackson and spend the day. My first visit I was a little nervous, wondering what in the world we would talk about. It seemed like a long time to sit with someone you don’t know. Would we have anything in common? Could it really be more filled with more than just small talk?

I felt like our visits somehow transcended those bars and walls. Our visits somehow redeemed us both and reminded us of our shared humanity. Our visits transcended the very heavily debated issue of the death penalty. This I was also a little nervous not With the support of my com- is not an “issue” to be debated, but a knowing what Death Row would be munity and prayers from lots of folks I human being still being transformed and shaped by the Spirit of God. Instead of like. My fears about prison were realflew back to Georgia to visit Mark – I ized – it is a very dark, depressing, cruel was very grateful to spend his last two an “issue”, a human being…guilty or and violent place that certainly lives up days with him. Driving from Atlanta to innocent, a human being. I write this to it’s reputation. My fears of sitting Jackson, however, I had those same not as an issue but about a son, brother, with a stranger who is accused of mur- fears again. Could I really visit my father, cousin and friend whom the State der quickly dissipated, however. The friend knowing his hours were numof Georgia put to death April 29, 2009. hours of that first visit flew by. We bered? Would there be anything to say You are missed Mark, but …Welcome shared lots of snacks from the vending to comfort or encourage … or would we Home! machine and found we had lots to talk sit in silence? Could I visit in the barabout. I heard lots of stories of Mark baric cell heavily guarded by 2 CERT growing up. We talked about our fami- (Certified Emergency and Response lies, interests, faith, prayer, goals and Team) officers and many guards? Once dreams. Before I knew it our first visit again the prison confirmed my anxiety was over. I looked forward to our but the visit dispelled my fears. I shared monthly visits. When we moved to the time and space with Mark’s family Kansas City we continued our visits and lawyers. We heard stories, we had through letters. I also continued to keep communion with Dr. Pepper and Doriup with Mark’s elderly mother through tos and tried to make the most of every moment. I felt honored to be one of his phone calls. Mark Mize and Jodi Garbison during her Mark spent 15 years on Death visitors and yet very unsure of how to last visit with him on Death Row. deal with the horror that was surroundRow filing appeal after appeal after ap-

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September 4th – Death Penalty October 2nd – Health Care Issues November 6th – Non Violence Training December 4th – Alternative Holiday Celebrations
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