On December 22nd at the First United Church, members of the Bloomington community gathered to honor the lives of those who have experienced homelessness and died in the past year. Shalom’s Executive Director, Rev. Forrest Gilmore, said in the opening words, “The tragedy of American homelessness is a national disgrace. On this night, we gather to recognize the fatalities of this national wound.”
Rev. Bruce Ervin of First Christian Church who offered the homily spoke to people without homes directly: “I know God is walking with you on the streets this holiday season. If the Bible story tells us anything, it tells us God has a special concern for those who are homeless.”
Rabbi Brian Besser offered a Hebrew prayer, which translated to “Spread over us Your shelter of peace.”
Sylvia McNair sang a moving solo of “Down in the River to Pray.”
The dead were remembered by reciting their names. lighting a candle, and ringing a gong in their honor.
Those names of the memorialized included:
Terry Wade Allbritten
Billy Archer (pictured above)
Coty Douglas Gilliland
Other participants in the service included musicians Charles Webb and David Gulyas, Sam Troxal of First United Church, Paul Eisenberg of Congregation Beth Shalom, Rev. Doug Wadkins of the Unitarian Universalist Church, Father Charlie Dupree of Trinity Episcopal, with an extra special thanks to guests of Shalom who offered their voices and presence: Jonathan Jones, Bonnie Reed, Tai Holland, Stephanie Stephenson, and Ray Jordan.