by Jack Hamlin / Special to the OB Rag / June 23, 2010
Yesterday (6/22/10), I was invited to attend a meeting of OB’s local faith community. The purpose of the meeting was a beginning point to discuss and work together with the community to address homelessness in OB and all the attendant issues. In particular, there was an overriding concern the current sentiments by some could lead to violence in our community.
The meeting was called by Rev. Tom Ziegert, Pastor of Point Loma United Methodist Church on Sunset Cliffs Blvd. In attendance at the meeting were, Rev. Gwen Fruend, Pastor of All Souls Episcopal Church, Rev. Karen Marohn, Pastor, and Josh Serrano of St. Peters by the Sea Lutheran Church, Fr. Ron Hebert, Pastor of the Sacred Heart of Ocean Beach Catholic Church, Rev. Larry Bausch, Pastor of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Rev. Steve Drescher, Pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Rev. Don Leaf, Associate Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ocean Beach, and Glyn Franks of Second Chance Ministries.
The discussion was wide ranging, but the focus was peace within the community in which no person or group is marginalized. To that end, it was agreed the faith community will sponsor a community forum to discuss homelessness in OB. It was also agreed the forum is a beginning, not an end, and the focus is on collaboration and transformation. There will be more than one meeting and all stakeholders will have an opportunity to be heard and counted. I have been asked to hold back on the specifics of the meeting until some logistical aspects are worked out, but I am pleased to report, we are moving forward and not waiting for another flashpoint which could lead to a violent encounter.
At the conclusion of the meeting, I asked if we could make a public statement which would convey the position of the faith community in Ocean Beach. The following is what was decided upon:
“We recognize the complexity in our community of homelessness. We regret the polarization which has occurred in our community which is making it difficult in addressing these issues. We look to our community to come together to work on transforming the issues before us.”
And so, I am personally asking for all sides of the many issues which are before us to allow calm heads to prevail. If you wish to protest or picket, please do so civilly and with respect toward the rights of others. And this includes the right to disagree with your particular position. If you respond to this post, please do so without anger, vitriol and finger-pointing, this will only lead to further polarization and isolation of what have now become factions. Talk with and listen to each other. Acceptance has always been a part and parcel of the Ocean Beach soul.
We should celebrate our differences and not allow them to tear us apart. John Lennon sang it best….”Give Peace a Chance.”