Submitted by Rev. Rebecca Littlejohn
Since 2002, Vista La Mesa Christian Church, in east San Diego County, CA, has opened their doors to neighbors struggling with homelessness for two weeks or more each year, through the Interfaith Shelter Network in their community.
Through this program, guests are provided with semi-private rooms overnight, three meals a day, linens, and anything else they need during their stay, while they work with a case manager to find permanent housing. Vista La Mesa is deeply committed to the ministry and grateful for numerous partners from outside the congregation who help make it happen every year.
On Oct 12, the congregation was honored with the Spirit of Service Award for their role as a Host Congregation for the Interfaith Shelter Network, at the Network’s annual Celestial Nights Gala.
Vista La Mesa also recently celebrated the third year of another community ministry on Oct. 20. Its newest ministry for neighbors living without shelter, Welcome Saturday is hosted every second Saturday of the month. The congregation provides showers – towels, clean clothes and toiletries included – hot breakfast with all-you-can-eat bacon, packed lunches with sandwiches made to order, and sincere friendship. The ministry is a partnership with a local Methodist congregation that offers similar services on the last Saturdays of each month.
This celebration service included four of the ministry’s regular guests as speakers. Karen Cliffe, who has coordinated the ministry since its inception, was honored with a framed photo from the most recent Welcome Saturday, surrounded by notes of gratitude from guests and church members.