St. Luke’s Outreach Ministries
Members of St. Luke’s are active in serving others through the Parish and with partner organizations.
In late 2016, a small group started meeting to learn about the options available to us for helping refugees, including welcoming new refugees or working as mentors with refugees who are currently in the Chicago area. To date,we have set up a website with concrete ways to serve refugees in our community right now, from calling congresspeople to assembling welcome kits; information about refugees, the refugee resettlement process, and local refugee service organizations; news about the Executive Order banning refugee admissions for a period of 120 days and how it has affected families; and information about our ministry here at St. Luke’s. The current status of this emerging ministry can be found here: https://sites.google.com/view/ stlukesrefugeeministry. If you are interested in working with us, have particular skills to share, ways to advocate or questions, please contact Myra Janus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Luke’s local hunger ministry was started by two parishioners over 25 years ago, and it’s still going strong today! We have teams of shoppers and lunchmakers. The shoppers purchase groceries and deliver them to St. Luke’s in time for the lunchmakers to do their work each Saturday morning. Teams are assigned once each month to prepare 100-120 sack lunches. Each lunch consists of a meat and cheese sandwich, a hard-boiled egg, a piece of fruit, 2 cookies, and a napkin. Each lunch is then brought to First Presbyterian Church for the guests of their Souper Saturday soup kitchen. Lunches are prepared each Saturday, including holidays, as hunger never takes a holiday. If you would like to get involved with other parishioners to help alleviate hunger in Evanston, please contact Joe Zurawski.
Around the turn of the last century, St. Luke’s parishioners began the custom of delivering baskets of food to needy families at Christmas. This was the beginning of Chicago’s Revive Center Christmas Basket Program, which is currently run by the Revive Center of Chicago (formerly known as Cathedral Shelter). The program serves more than 1500 families in the Chicago area, involving more than 45 parishes, 10 corporations, schools and unaffiliated donors. St. Luke’s still provides boxes of food and gifts for approximately 50 households through the program each year and fields volunteer teams to the Shelter to help distribute them. Look for Christmas basket opportunities just after Halloween each year, or contact Beth Wright.
The Seraj Library Project
The Seraj Library Project, helping West Bank Palestinian villages create children’s libraries, became part of St. Luke’s international outreach sometime in 2009. But the seed for this mission was planted earlier, in a Lenten study group of nearly 25 parishioners in 2007. It grew from a careful examination of the origins and history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a recognition of the destructive impact on both people of an occupation that had continued for 40 years.
Adopted as an parish project in 2009, St. Luke’s goal was to provide financial support for a library in Taybeh in partnership with a Latin Catholic Church contributing space and volunteers to oversee the library. Parishioners were very generous and the Taybeh Seraj library was completed and opened in 2011. It was the first to include a necessary component of all modern libraries, computers. The Taybeh library was Seraj’s fourth. As of December, 2016 there are eight.
Seraj (meaning “light” in Arabic) is about books and reading and playing, but it has become far more than that. The libraries have become community centers, safe places for children when there is violence, generators of music, dance, poetry, story-telling programs which attract Palestinians of all ages. They are generators of hope, a commodity in short supply in Palestine.
St. Luke parishioners continue to support Seraj with their time, money and attendance at Seraj’s annual fall benefit. The 2007 Lenten study of Israel/Palestine which educated many of us about a conflict we knew little about continues through Seraj – its newsletters, speakers and parishioners who report on their visits to the young people and adults in Seraj villages.
Interfaith Action of Evanston
It is sometimes surprising and often alarming how many homeless people and how much general poverty are found in a comfortable and lovely community like Evanston. It is a sign of the community’s strength that many people and institutions have committed to support those members in greatest need. Interfaith Action of Evanston is composed of over forty faith communities, including St. Luke’s, who do just that. Through its members, volunteers, and tiny staff, Interfaith Action ensures that the homeless are fed breakfast and can gather and rest inside every weekday morning and weekday afternoons when it becomes cold out. Meals are provided by IAE and/or its members every day of the week, often to 100-125 individuals, and overnight shelter is open on cold winter nights. Once a month, IAE partners with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the City of Evanston to pass out huge quantities of fresh produce free to anyone who comes, and hundreds of people do.
Members of St. Luke’s have been engaged in Interfaith Action’s work in several ways. We have cooked meals together, spent nights at the overnight shelter, helped with the morning Hospitality Center, written articles and thus provided publicity, collected toiletries, and served at the Producemobile and on committees and the board of directors. If you would like to find out more about IAE and service possibilities, feel free to contact Birch Burghardt or Rick Kinnebrew.
Housing Options for the Mentally Ill
Housing Options for the Mentally Ill is an Evanston nonprofit organization that provides affordable supportive housing, mental health services and employment assistance to adults recovering from chronic mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. Housing Options encourages independent living and offers a safe and dignified alternative to homelessness and unnecessary institutionalization.
Members of St. Luke’s have generously given of their time as volunteers at Housing Options. They have engaged in a number of activities, including working on special events, providing publicity, working on committees and serving on the board of directors.
Housing Options welcomes volunteers – if you would like to learn more about Housing Options and volunteer opportunities, please contact Beth Ida Stern, Volunteer Coordinator, Housing Options, 2100 Ridge Avenue, Suite G320 Evanston IL 847.866.2977
Greenwood Care is a residential home for developmentally disabled in Evanston. St. Luke’s leads weekly Sunday order of worship, a modified service of Evening Prayer, including monthly Eucharist, for the people who live there.
If you join us you will see how quickly this ministry can become an important part of your spiritual life by sharing the Good News in worship and song. Getting to know this often overlooked segment of society is a real joy.