In your piece; “Communities of Faith: Forest Hill UMC’s expanding ministries” I noticed a scathing series of omissions that I honestly find to be very disrespectful to truth and also to the congregation of the former Kerr Street United Methodist Church. The headline itself is a case study in disinformation.
Since acquiring the assets of Kerr Street UMC in February of 2019 a segment of the Forest Hill congregation and leadership has been on a mission to erase the legacy of Kerr Street. The family that took me in and accepted me when I had nothing.
“Expanding ministries”. This is a joke? It was promised in 2019 that all ministries that were current at Kerr Street would continue if we voted to merge with Forest Hill. That was a fib to say the least. In fact the only ministry that continues to this day is the Tuesday night meal that was started prior to Narrow Gate and not even given a mention in the article.
The heart of those ministries were for the homeless and disadvantaged. As Jesus preached. The action after the merger was to disrespect and ostracize from the church those already ostracized by society.
Language like “useless”, “loiterers” and “those people” were heard from members of Forest Hill on many occasions.
In fact, the only reason I see for them to accept the merge was to get a new facility to get “those people” away from the money of their neighborhood and church. Can’t have the “money people” getting upset having to deal with being around people that have nothing.
I recognize that tough decisions sometimes have to be made. Some of those decisions didn’t have to be made. Some of those that did, didn’t have to be handled the way they were. Forest Hill has scarred the memory of Kerr Street to the point that many of those people that need the help most won’t go near the property. They don’t feel welcome and rightfully so. To paraphrase the words of Jesus “…whatever you did to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me.”
A segment of the Forest Hill congregation and leadership needs to study those words and search their conscience. They will have to answer for the harm they’ve done. I’m sure that I won’t be welcome after this letter. But I don’t feel all that welcome now. So no loss.
C. Jason Vickrey
Former member of Kerr Street United Methodist Church and former member of the United Methodist Church