The local newspaper took a shot at our church on page one of the metro section today. We had a car abandoned in our parking lot with a child on board the other night. It was a truly horrifying story, but as if that weren’t bad enough the reporter decided to make the story sound even worse:
The vehicle — with the 22-month-old child inside unharmed — was found at 9:51 p.m., about 35 minutes after deputies were called. It was less than a block away at Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church, in the 14000 block of Wells Port Drive in North Austin, officers said.
The property has a transient encampment that has had many reports of assaults, disturbances and illicit drug use, the affidavit said.
The reporter is referring to complaints we have received over the years as a result of trying to work with the homeless. If they had bothered to talk to us we could have told them we have rules against all those things, that we ask violators to leave, and are shutting down the ministry because we were not able to get a handle on all of the problems. Instead, Austin will read a front page story that makes our church look like the fight club with a drug component.
Several people came by the church worried that the article would hurt our reputation, but I realized we are in the enviable position of not having to lose sleep over what people call us. Our advocacy of issues like GLBT rights, reproductive rights for women, universal health care, letting atheists join the church and now working on the needs of homeless people has meant we’ve been called every name in the book. We are in that peaceful position of having no more reputation to lose.