Friday, December 19, 2008


The bell tolled for 38 homeless neighbors who died on Indy's streets this year

HONORING HOMELESS NEIGHBORS. I attended the Homeless Memorial Service today at Christ Church Cathedral on Monument Circle. Candles were lit and the bell tolled for 38 Indianapolis neighbors who died while homeless this year. Since we started holding these services 12 years ago on the Friday nearest winter Solstice, nearly 350 names have been added to the memorial. This year's number of deaths is one of the highest that I can recall.

LOST IN A DOMESTIC WAR. When I was Executive Director at Horizon House, we started adding names inscribed in individual memorial bricks in the walkway leading to the new day center as a permanent reminder of these neighbors who died without dignity (I don't know if this effort has been continued). After 12 years, there is still no permanent memorial for the hundreds in our city lost in this domestic but unnecessary war.

A FELLOWSHIP OF CARE. I was glad that Sam and my father-in-law joined me for the Homeless Memorial Service today. I also saw several friends that I had invited, along with numerous homeless service providers and advocates that have been a vital part of my fellowship across the years. God bless all who give themselves directly to help neighbors who are homeless or near homeless. There can be no more difficult but important and sometimes rewarding work.

THANKS, RICK POSSON. While CHIP (the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention) now oversees this service and has morphed it into a platform for promoting the organization, there are enough of us who remember its original intent and value the soul of the service. Thanks, Rick Posson, for your years of excellent and heart-felt volunteer work to make this a reality in Indianapolis. Perhaps someday due recognition will be given for your efforts what were brushed aside by CHIP a few years ago.

REMEMBERING JACKE OGDEN. Nearly every year, there are names on the memorial list of people I have directly worked with. This year I saw the name "Jacqueline Ogden." Jackie was housed during the time that I served as Pastor of Shepherd Community, where she participated regularly. But when I encountered her just a few years ago, she had been homeless off and on with few resources. Domestic violence and mental illness were at play in her life situation. I do not know at this time how or when she died. She was younger than 60 years. I honor her life today.

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility. Shalom!


  1. Anonymous7:50 AM

    Thank you for your kind words John, but there were others who helped. I recall the first service we held on the steps of the Monument, outside at night. The first day of winter in 1992 was bitterly cold and windy, but the warmth of those in attendance will never be forgotten.

    Rick Posson

  2. It has been a year of great losses, to be sure. Though some do have a different agenda, as you noted above, there are those of us who join you with the original intent in our hearts and minds. Thank you for taking the time to join us in honoring the friends we have lost this year and for the years you have dedicated to investing in their lives.

    The PourHouse


Your tasteful comments and/or questions are welcome. Posts are moderated only to reduce a few instances of incivility.