I have spent the night the past two weeks plus at the Union Gospel Mission and am having an excellent time of it -- not only regards to sleeping in the dorm that the mission has, but also listening to the sermons that are delivered in the early evening. The Christmas music that is performed is also splendid. [And the food -- the FOOD -- has been fantastic during my stay so far! A happier Tom there couldn't be.] I chatted with a pal last night about The Mish – about how things were about five years ago when we both used the mission’s services frequently, and how thing are, today.
Five years ago, there were a lot scuffles between the guys when the front gate was opened in the early afternoon and in the area near the contact window there were some brawls as guys fought over where guys were in line to get a bed in the dorm.
Nowadays, however, the mission is very much a peaceful place both on the grounds of the facility and and out on the street.
I do not know what transformative events occurred to create the much happier space that is in place, today, at Union Gospel Mission. And I don’t know if the mission administration is as struck as I am about the better atmosphere that now exists.
Of course, since I only have two-weeks’ worth of evidence about how things are at the mission for my current stay, I am, perhaps, making too big a deal about too little information. But I greatly doubt that, simply because thing are nicer in a plethora of ways.
It used to be that there was evidence of racism by some small, but significant, number of the white guys staying at the mission. I haven’t discerned any evidence of racism during my current use of mission services. All the homeless guys appear to get along with each other remarkably well. The only times I witness skirmishes – which are pretty mild – are in the shower area. In these cold days and with particularly chilly nights, the guys are eager to get past their shower and move upstairs into the dorm to talk with their pals and ready themselves for a satisfying night’s sleep.
I will "drill down" and discuss other Union Gospel Mission topics in an upcoming post to this blog. It will include my appreciation of sermons given by Danny Vanek, UGM Administrator; Dick Hedger, Senior Pastor of Downtown Baptist Church; a sermon by a man whose name I have forgotten, who came with a group the name of which my mind has waylaid, who preached about the First Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." And, there was wonderful music and preaching by the in-house group Last Day's Harvest where Pastor Mooney -- with his music -- and Juan with his serious, intense preaching wowed me.
Also, there was a splendid, fantastic few minutes relating to a woman who played the harp last night that I am especially eager to tell y'all about.