Sleep out in the park

Pastor Matthew Best
4 min readJul 22, 2020

A small group of folks gathered Monday evening into Tuesday morning to do a unique event — Sleep out in the Park. The point of the event was to raise awareness of the challenges around homelessness, especially in light of the pandemic.

Doing sleep outs to raise awareness around homelessness is not a new idea. But doing it in the midst of a pandemic is. Our event included a handful of volunteers who worked behind the scenes, both on site and off site, and three of us who did interviews. We live streamed the event and interviewed many people throughout the event. The folks we interviewed ranged from social service providers, pastors, a bishop, people who experienced homelessness, elected and government officials, experts on the subject, and the founder of the Housing First model. They were incredible interviews. You can catch them all at the Charles Bruce Foundation Youtube channel. I’ll also be posting individual interviews each day to give you a chance to watch them if you so desire. Each interview ranges from 10 minutes to 25 minutes total.

My take aways from the event are this:

  • I heard themes throughout the interviews. Some of the themes include correcting misperceptions about those who experience homelessness (lazy, get a job, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, etc). When people are actually working with actual homeless people, you quickly learn that the perceptions are inaccurate. Other themes that emerged were the brokenness of society and systems that either keep people in poverty or do more harm to their efforts to pull them out. We’re the richest nation in history, yet we don’t supposedly have enough money to get people out of poverty when smaller nations have been able to do it?
  • Imago Dei — you might be asking what this is. It’s Latin for Image of God. I specifically mentioned it in one of the interviews because I kept hearing the idea without it being specifically spoken. People who experience homelessness are created in the image of God, like everyone else. This means they have dignity and value because they exist. People do not have value because of what they do or produce. This is a vital part of the foundation that exists in efforts to overcome homelessness, regardless of whether it is specifically stated or not.
  • The coming tsunami of evictions and homelessness. No one…

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Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.