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Galt church members experience homelessness for a night in order to raise awareness and money

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Posted: Sunday, February 22, 2009 10:00 pm

Twenty-two members of The Gathering Place spent the night in chairs and cardboard boxes to experience what it's like to be homeless.

The church, formerly known as River of Life Foursquare Gospel Church, sponsored an all-nighter Friday as they camped out in the Galt Plaza parking lot near Denny's on C Street.

In addition to the 22 people - including Pastor Larry Brand and wife Deanna - 20 others helped out on Friday, but went home that night. The group raised about $1,800 during the evening - money which will be used to help combat homelessness.

"I don't know how many people who said, 'We've been looking for a church like that for a long, long time,'" Larry Brand said during Sunday's service in Galt's Oldtown area. "We want to be the friendliest church in America."

And to do that, Brand said, the church needs to do more than preach about God and Jesus Christ. Church members need to go out into the community and, "Do what Jesus would do."

Members of The Gathering Place have helped the homeless in Lodi and Sacramento, and they plan to do it again.

During Sunday's service, Brand quoted Jesus as saying, "Love your neighbor as yourself," when referring to treating the homeless as your neighbors.

From left, Ian Brand, Matthew Brand, Sarah Verdin and Terry Lanza hold signs and collect donations from passing motorists on C St. in Galt on Saturday. (Dan Evans/News-Sentinel)

It may have been a little unorthodox, but Brand quoted children's entertainer Mr. Rogers in his sermon by always beginning his show, "Won't you be my neighbor?"

Brand noted that one homeless man actually approached the church members Friday night. He gave the man some money, but another thought came to him.

"I realized he had a story," Brand said. "I wanted to hear his story."

It turned out that the man's wife had left him and took their children. Brand said it was more Christian to listen to the man's story than say, "Here's your money and go away."

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

How did it feel to be homeless for a night?

Larry Dorough
"I wanted to get maybe a glimpse of the lives of these people right now. It was a way to get together as a church and a community, and a sense of not having a warm home and bed to sleep in."
Rusty Greenmyer
"It was eye- opening how much the community wanted to give. It made me want to do community outreach. I slept in a chair by the fire."
Matthew Verdin
"I slept in a box. I slept only two hours. We were up until 4:30 talking. Denny's was good to us. They gave us hot coffee to keep us warm."
Sarah Verdin
"My feet were frozen until we had hot cocoa. It was very hard to sleep because of the traffic."
Joe Magdaleno
"Yeah, man, we slept in boxes. At 2 o'clock in the morning, the mist soaked the boxes. It made me realize what they really go through. Some of them sleep on the street with nothing over them."

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  • posted at 4:06 pm on Tue, Feb 24, 2009.


    "Have not because we ask not" quote JCWho is my neighbor? those in need Local Homeless. Good for you to set an Great example for others to follow.Leting the Town know there is a GOD who cares.

  • posted at 2:13 pm on Mon, Feb 23, 2009.


    I think for the truly homeless experience, they should have got sloshed on cheap fortified wine, and harassed passers by for "spare change", or make up a good lie, in order to get a little more realism. One night camping out will not make one truly experience homelessness.



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