A letter to Hope from St. Mark's Pastor Jay Trygstad; St. Mark's is a BEDS Shelter Location:
Dear Pastor Jon and the church of Hope,
My name is Pastor Jay Trygstad, and I am the pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church near the intersection of SW Hwy and 111th, in Worth.
We have had a ministry to the homeless here for about 15 years.
I was a pastor in Schaumburg (1992-2002) when Prince of Peace began our ministry to the homeless.(then called PADS) I remember it was very controversial at the time. The mayor opposed to it, arguing that there were no homeless people in Schaumburg (yea right.) Doubtless there will be those in Orland Park (where I currently live) who make the same argument. The reason many people don’t see homeless people is because they blend in with everyone else. But let me assure you, there are homeless people in our community of Orland Park.
I have heard fearful people predict that if we allowed homeless people into our church, certainly drifters and felons will be drawn to our community like a magnet. Surely vagrants and criminals will come from all over Chicagoland just to stay in our church basement. We have not found that to be true at St. Mark.
We began this ministry at St. Mark by holding a community meeting and inviting people in the neighborhood and greater community to come and hear about the proposed ministry, and share their worries and concerns.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that most people who attended saw the value of it and the need for it. There were only 3 people, (3 very loud and angry people) who opposed it. (Just as there will be loud people in your church and community that object to it. At St. Mark we decided not to let the tail wag the dog, but rather to be obedient to the words of Jesus when He tells us in Mt. 25,
“If you did it to the least of these my brothers/sisters, you did it to me.”
Since that time other churches have joined us in this ministry so that now there is a church site open in our community every night of the week during the coldest months of the year.
Speaking as the pastor of our church, I am convinced that this ministry to the homeless is the most important thing we do, and it is at the very heart of our church’s life and mission. It has been a blessing for our church, and for our members. It has helped many of our members to grow in their servanthood, and has enabled many people from our community to get involved as well.
I would be glad to share with you more in depth, or in person, about the value of this ministry. God bless you as you seek God’s will for your future.
Your brother in Christ,
Pastor Jay Trygstad