Way back in March of 2006, Rev. Mair Honan and a colleague began to explore the idea of being a pastoral presence among the homeless of Portland, Maine. They began walking the streets of Portland to assess if there was a need for this kind of ministry among those on the very edges of society. Although it took some time to gain the trust of the people on the street, the need was definitely there, and in March of this year, Grace-Street Ministry celebrated its 10th Anniversary of providing presence, prayer and advocacy for the homeless in the shelters and on the streets of Portland.
And although all of us here at Grace-Street long for a day when homelessness is eliminated and we’re no longer needed, that is certainly not the case right now. The twin scourges of a critical lack of affordable housing, combined with the opioid epidemic, are putting greater and greater numbers of people in need of our services. And lately, there has been a new problem added into the mix, the synthetic cannabinoid called Spice. Although it is supposed to be synthetic marijuana, it’s side effects can be startling, ranging from paranoia and anxiety all the way up to full blown psychosis. It can also induce an almost catatonic state where a user will be standing, bent over at the waist, leaning their head against a wall, motionless and unresponsive.
And so the three pastors of Grace-Street continue to walk the streets of Portland and visit the various shelters, where they listen to the stories, hold the pain and help to bring the hope that comes from a relationship with the sacred to the people that so much of society has simply discarded.
It is truly a privilege to do this work.