Are mandatory prayer meetings fair at free church meals?

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 27 Nov 1998 02:56:25 -0400


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Is it fair for churches to require that people attend relegious services
before they can eat free meals?  Why or why not?

=46or an current example, see the article below:

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/ap/ap_us/story.html?s=3Dv/ap/19981125/u=
s/sist
er_jean_1.html
=46WD  Associated Press - Wednesday November 25, 1998


IN A.C., SISTER JEAN FEEDS THE POOR
By John Curran - Associated Press Writer


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - At 11:30 a.m., the hungry beggars and
crapped-out gamblers begin lining up.

Standing along Pacific Avenue, a poker chip's throw from Resorts Casino
Hotel, they rub their hands to keep warm. They shuffle ahead, one step at a
time, eyes on the church door, hoping the line keeps moving so they can get
in for the first lunch sitting.

In this world of uncertainty, they know two things for sure: One is that
they are hungry. Two is that ``Sister Jean'' will feed them, just as she
always has, no questions asked.

Then the door swings open and Jean Webster welcomes them. They file in and
sit down, 10 to a table, for a hot lunch of scalloped potatoes, three-bean
soup, sliced pears and barbecued chicken.

``I see you made it back,'' she tells one man, smiling broadly and clapping
him on the back as he pulls out a folding chair. ``Uh huh,'' he says.

Ripe from living on the street, his stench overwhelms the aroma wafting out
of the kitchen. Webster doesn't flinch.

Why should she? After a dozen years feeding Atlantic City's poor - first
out of her home, now out of First Presbyterian Church - Jean Webster has
seen and smelled it all.

A former casino chef, Webster, 63, found her calling when she saw a man
rummaging through a garbage can in search of food. Now she runs a soup
kitchen that feeds up to 400 people a day, five days a week.

She tends to the other half in this gambling mecca, the ones who don't even
have enough money to get into the $4.99 casino buffets.

They call her ``Sister Jean'' or ``Saint Jean'' or ``the Mother Teresa of
Jersey.''

``She doesn't get turned off by offensive looks. She cares for them and
tells them somebody loves them,'' said Kent Pipes, executive director of
the Salt and Light Corp., a nonprofit charity.

``She is a living miracle, in terms of the blessings she gives to others,''
said Redenia Gilliam-Mosee, senior vice president at Bally's Park Place
Casino Hotel, who has known Webster for 20 years.

Born in New York, Webster moved here at age 5 with her father, a handyman.
She worked as a chef at Caesars Atlantic City, Trump Taj Mahal and the
Playboy Casino.

Then came that day in 1986.

``I saw a man eating out of a garbage can when I was on my way to work at
the Playboy Casino. I took him to Pizza King and told them to give him
whatever he wanted. Then I gave him some more later at my home,'' she said.

She didn't stop there. With her own money, Webster fed up to 35 people a
day out of her home, even spending money for her heart medicine.

Talk about irony: Her big heart has trouble working. By Webster's count,
she has had 17 heart attacks in 15 years, the last one in early November.

Her cardiologist looks at her health a bit differently. ``It's not real
heart attacks, but she gets these spells where she requires
hospitalization,'' said Dr. Rashmikant Desai, who wouldn't elaborate.

``In a nonscientific way, though, she has a great heart. She's a great
woman and she loves people.''

In 1995, the new owner of Webster's rented home evicted her. Salt and Light
Corp., based in Mount Holly, stepped in.

The city sold a house to the charity - for Webster's use - for $1. But the
neighbors didn't want the homeless there, so Salt and Light contacted the
church, which offered its kitchen and chapel.

Meanwhile, word spread further. Supporters established The Friends of Jean
Webster. Her operation employs a half-dozen volunteers. Casino restaurants
donate leftover food. Businesses and individuals donate money and food.

At the heart of it all is Webster - a bespectacled 5-foot tall woman in a
T-shirt, apron, sweat pants and running shoes.

``I like it better here,'' she says of the church. ``I can feed more. I
have the commercial-sized oven and I can cook much faster,'' Webster said
one day recently, shaking a salt shaker over a tray of steaming hot
scalloped potatoes.

But the first order of business isn't food.

When Webster's clients sit down at the tables at noon, there is a bowl of
sliced pears and a donut waiting along with a napkin, silverware and four
laminated sheets of paper labeled ``Sing Along With Jesus and Jean.'' Each
contains typewritten lyrics - ``Amazing Grace,'' ``His Eye Is On The
Sparrow'' and other spirituals.

Hungry as they are, they do not touch the food. Rules are rules.

``We feed them spiritually first,'' said Christy Browne, a volunteer. ``If
we did it the other way, they might not appreciate it.''

Volunteers take microphones and play the piano for a rousing one-hour
service. Hard-luck diners are asked to ``testify'' about their love for God.

Some, too tired, sleep in their chairs. Others take the microphone.

``I had no food in my cabinet,'' a young man says. ``Someone had told me
about Sister Jean, so I came here. I thank the Lord there's someone out
there who is gonna look out for me.''

After the songs and the testimony and the preaching, it is time to eat.

``If it wasn't for her, seven out of 10 people here would be dead or
sitting up in the penitentiary,'' says Donald, 48, a lunch regular. ``The
woman's heart is made out of 24-karat gold.''

Come Thanksgiving, the operation feeds up to 1,000 people.

Along with the crowds come awards - $50,000 from toy maker Russ Berrie for
``making a difference'' (she bought 380 pairs of socks and dozens of pairs
of shoes for her clients), a humanitarian award from the New Jersey
Restaurant
Association, induction into the Atlantic County Women's Hall of Fame.

To Webster, she is just following orders.

``God, he's the one who told me to do it. It seems like nobody wants to
help these people, but they're human beings,'' she said.

After this meal, she says, the cupboard will be bare. ``We've got nothing
in the kitty,'' Webster said. But she's not worried.

``I just rely on God. It's like the loaves and the fishes. He never lets me
go dry.''

END FORWARD
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Is it fair for churches to require that people attend relegious
services before they can eat free meals?  Why or why not?


=46or an current example, see the article below:=20


http://dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/ap/ap_us/story.html?s=3Dv/ap/19981125/u=
s/sister_jean_1.html

=46WD  Associated Press - Wednesday November 25, 1998



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>IN A.C., SISTER JEAN FEEDS THE
POOR

By John Curran - Associated Press Writer=20

</paraindent>


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - At 11:30 a.m., the hungry beggars and
crapped-out gamblers begin lining up.


Standing along Pacific Avenue, a poker chip's throw from Resorts Casino
Hotel, they rub their hands to keep warm. They shuffle ahead, one step
at a time, eyes on the church door, hoping the line keeps moving so
they can get in for the first lunch sitting.


In this world of uncertainty, they know two things for sure: One is
that they are hungry. Two is that ``Sister Jean'' will feed them, just
as she always has, no questions asked.


Then the door swings open and Jean Webster welcomes them. They file in
and sit down, 10 to a table, for a hot lunch of scalloped potatoes,
three-bean soup, sliced pears and barbecued chicken.


``I see you made it back,'' she tells one man, smiling broadly and
clapping him on the back as he pulls out a folding chair. ``Uh huh,''
he says.


Ripe from living on the street, his stench overwhelms the aroma wafting
out of the kitchen. Webster doesn't flinch.


Why should she? After a dozen years feeding Atlantic City's poor -
first out of her home, now out of First Presbyterian Church - Jean
Webster has seen and smelled it all.


A former casino chef, Webster, 63, found her calling when she saw a man
rummaging through a garbage can in search of food. Now she runs a soup
kitchen that feeds up to 400 people a day, five days a week.


She tends to the other half in this gambling mecca, the ones who don't
even have enough money to get into the $4.99 casino buffets.


They call her ``Sister Jean'' or ``Saint Jean'' or ``the Mother Teresa
of Jersey.''


``She doesn't get turned off by offensive looks. She cares for them and
tells them somebody loves them,'' said Kent Pipes, executive director
of the Salt and Light Corp., a nonprofit charity.


``She is a living miracle, in terms of the blessings she gives to
others,'' said Redenia Gilliam-Mosee, senior vice president at Bally's
Park Place Casino Hotel, who has known Webster for 20 years.


Born in New York, Webster moved here at age 5 with her father, a
handyman. She worked as a chef at Caesars Atlantic City, Trump Taj
Mahal and the Playboy Casino.


Then came that day in 1986.


``I saw a man eating out of a garbage can when I was on my way to work
at the Playboy Casino. I took him to Pizza King and told them to give
him whatever he wanted. Then I gave him some more later at my home,''
she said.


She didn't stop there. With her own money, Webster fed up to 35 people
a day out of her home, even spending money for her heart medicine.


Talk about irony: Her big heart has trouble working. By Webster's
count, she has had 17 heart attacks in 15 years, the last one in early
November.


Her cardiologist looks at her health a bit differently. ``It's not real
heart attacks, but she gets these spells where she requires
hospitalization,'' said Dr. Rashmikant Desai, who wouldn't elaborate.


``In a nonscientific way, though, she has a great heart. She's a great
woman and she loves people.''


In 1995, the new owner of Webster's rented home evicted her. Salt and
Light Corp., based in Mount Holly, stepped in.


The city sold a house to the charity - for Webster's use - for $1. But
the neighbors didn't want the homeless there, so Salt and Light
contacted the church, which offered its kitchen and chapel.


Meanwhile, word spread further. Supporters established The Friends of
Jean Webster. Her operation employs a half-dozen volunteers. Casino
restaurants donate leftover food. Businesses and individuals donate
money and food.


At the heart of it all is Webster - a bespectacled 5-foot tall woman in
a T-shirt, apron, sweat pants and running shoes.


``I like it better here,'' she says of the church. ``I can feed more. I
have the commercial-sized oven and I can cook much faster,'' Webster
said one day recently, shaking a salt shaker over a tray of steaming
hot scalloped potatoes.


But the first order of business isn't food.


When Webster's clients sit down at the tables at noon, there is a bowl
of sliced pears and a donut waiting along with a napkin, silverware and
four laminated sheets of paper labeled ``Sing Along With Jesus and
Jean.'' Each contains typewritten lyrics - ``Amazing Grace,'' ``His Eye
Is On The Sparrow'' and other spirituals.


Hungry as they are, they do not touch the food. Rules are rules.


``We feed them spiritually first,'' said Christy Browne, a volunteer.
``If we did it the other way, they might not appreciate it.''


Volunteers take microphones and play the piano for a rousing one-hour
service. Hard-luck diners are asked to ``testify'' about their love for
God.


Some, too tired, sleep in their chairs. Others take the microphone.


``I had no food in my cabinet,'' a young man says. ``Someone had told
me about Sister Jean, so I came here. I thank the Lord there's someone
out there who is gonna look out for me.''


After the songs and the testimony and the preaching, it is time to
eat.


``If it wasn't for her, seven out of 10 people here would be dead or
sitting up in the penitentiary,'' says Donald, 48, a lunch regular.
``The woman's heart is made out of 24-karat gold.''


Come Thanksgiving, the operation feeds up to 1,000 people.


Along with the crowds come awards - $50,000 from toy maker Russ Berrie
for ``making a difference'' (she bought 380 pairs of socks and dozens
of pairs of shoes for her clients), a humanitarian award from the New
Jersey Restaurant

Association, induction into the Atlantic County Women's Hall of Fame.


To Webster, she is just following orders.


``God, he's the one who told me to do it. It seems like nobody wants to
help these people, but they're human beings,'' she said.


After this meal, she says, the cupboard will be bare. ``We've got
nothing in the kitty,'' Webster said. But she's not worried.


``I just rely on God. It's like the loaves and the fishes. He never
lets me go dry.''


END FORWARD

-=20

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink=
=2Enet>

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