Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Angel Food Ministries Forced To Close

*Below is an article which discusses the impact of the end of Angel Food Ministries upon a particular community. The closure of this organization is producing nationwide repercussions.

Angel Food Ministries Closing After 17 Years

RANTOUL — A food ministry that served low-income residents and others affected by the poor economy is, itself, a victim of the economy.

Angel Food Ministries, which at one time served 500,000 families a month in 35 states, said last week it was closing after 17 years.

The shutdown was effective immediately.

Angel Food Ministries had been founded in January to replace the SHARE Food bulk food program in Rantoul when SHARE Food shut down in December because of low numbers.

Nancy Brown, Angel Foods' director in Rantoul, said the shutdown is going to hit many area residents hard, including her.

Brown said one person who had participated in both the SHARE Food and Angel Food programs got a shock when she went to a store to buy meat.

"She didn't realize what a bargain she was getting," Brown said.

Another customer used the program because she has acute allergies that don't allow her to be around people. The program offered home delivery.

An announcement on the Angel Food Ministries website said organizers "realize the pressure that this places on our host sites, community food banks and customers."

The announcement said most, if not all, food ministries have shut down in recent years. The rapid rise in food costs and fuel costs were cited for the decision.

Brown said Rantoul area residents who placed a food order for September will receive refunds.

She said she had no inkling that the program was struggling until it was announced that the September order of food would not be coming.

Despite starting up less than a year ago, the Rantoul site was in Illinois' top three in terms of customer numbers, Brown said. An average of more than 100 people signed up for food each month.

"It's devastating to have it happen twice in a year," Brown said.

She said she is actively seeking a replacement program but doesn't know if any are available.

"It's hard, even in your own mind, to accept this and hold your head up and go on," Brown said.

The Angel Food Ministries program saved customers money through bulk purchasing. J.C. Neff of Effingham said about 180 distribution sites were set up in Illinois and about 5,500 host sites in the country.

Participants were able to sign up at either one of two monthly signup periods at Community Service Center or online using a debit card or credit card. They were also able to use their Link Card or SNAP card when paying on-site.

Income level didn't matter. Anyone could order through the program, regardless of how much money they made. And participants weren't limited to Rantoul.

Food was trucked from Georgia to distribution sites. Rantoul's site was the Community Service Center.

Pastors Joseph and Linda Wingo started the program in 1994 in Georgia.

The shutdown of the Rantoul program will have an effect in another area as well.

Some Champaign County residents sentenced to perform community service will have to look for another work site.

Click here to continue reading.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Whoa Mr. Robertson!

Well, Mr. Robertson’s foot is in his mouth again. I wonder if he simply does not think before he speaks. Even more so the secular world is outraged by this, because they view it as hypocrisy. The unbeliever cannot see that Christians do fail and display selfish bad attitudes—but is that a reflection of the goodness, mercy, and power of God? Absolutely not!! Weigh the individual, my unbelieving friend out there! These tea party folks carrying the “God and NAR and vote for ME” card spouting ugly venom at the poor and crushed in the U.S.—do that reflect all of us believers? It does not reflect me! I have never seen a president treated with such disrespectful contempt like President Obama by the tea party “God and NAR and vote for ME” card carrying crowd—and I am convinced racist attitudes are at play at times. Recently I had unbelieving relatives discussing these topics with myself and my family. Sigh…little wonder at times those trapped in darkness cannot see through the individual unto the Message which truly matters. An article on Robertson’s latest controversy below:

Pat Robertson says Alzheimer's makes divorce OK
by Associated Press

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told his "700 Club" viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer's is justifiable because the disease is "a kind of death."

During the portion of the show where the one-time Republican presidential candidate takes questions from viewers, Robertson was asked what advice a man should give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife started suffering from the incurable neurological disorder.

"I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her," Robertson said.

The chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which airs the "700 Club," said he wouldn't "put a guilt trip" on anyone who divorces a spouse who suffers from the illness, but added, "Get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer."

Most Christian denominations at least discourage divorce, citing Jesus' words in the Gospel of Mark that equate divorce and remarriage with adultery.

Terry Meeuwsen, Robertson's co-host, asked him about couples' marriage vows to take care of each other "for better or for worse" and "in sickness and in health."

"If you respect that vow, you say 'til death do us part,'" Robertson said during the Tuesday broadcast. "This is a kind of death."

A network spokesman said Wednesday that Robertson had no further statement.

Divorce is uncommon among couples where one partner is suffering from Alzheimer's, said Beth Kallmyer, director of constituent services for the Alzheimer's Association, which provides resources to sufferers and their families.

"We don't hear a lot of people saying 'I'm going to get divorced,'" she told The Associated Press. "Families typically respond the way they do to any other fatal disease."

The stress can be significant in marriages though, Kallmyer said, because it results in the gradual loss of a person's mental faculties.

"The caregiving can be really stressful on a couple of levels," she said. "There's the physical level. There's also the emotional level of feeling like you're losing that person you love."

As a result, she said, it's important for couples to make decisions about care together in the early stages of the illness, when its effects aren't as prominent.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Prayer and Personal Privacy

When Calls for Prayer Trample Personal Privacy
By Bill Broadway, Washington Post Staff Writer

Disclosing Details of Members' Health Could Pose Legal Problem for Churches

Bryan Mitnaul of Virginia Beach might be the only person to have won a lawsuit against a church over the publication of personal medical information.

But he won't hold the title long if religious communities don't revise the way they publicize such information, according to specialists who advise clergy on privacy matters.

In Mitnaul's case, an April 2000 article posted on the Web site of Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland heralded the minister of music's return from an illness:

"We have good news for you!" the article read. "Bryan Mitnaul is returning to Fairmount after a long medical leave of absence.

"Since the summer of last year, Bryan has been treated for bi-polar illness, a condition which at time has resulted in serious depression for him. Various therapies and medications have been tried, and finally, after much experimentation, his health has improved considerably. For that we are all very happy."

The church's comments, no matter how well-intentioned, crossed a line that should be a warning to any religious group that shares members' medical information in newsletters and during worship services, several ministers and specialists said.

Legally, publishing details of Mitnaul's condition without his permission was an invasion of privacy because it "included information in a way that would be highly offensive to the ordinary person," said Richard Hammar, general counsel for the Missouri-based Assemblies of God and publisher of Church Law & Tax Report, a national bimonthly newsletter.

Some conditions carry more of a stigma than others, and mental illness is one of them, Hammar said. Saying a person is recovering from a heart attack or being treated for cancer is "much less offensive," he said.

That's the way an Ohio appeals court ruled in 2002, citing invasion of privacy in sending the case back to a lower court that had issued a summary judgment favoring the church.

"It would have been okay to say I had been in the hospital and was very ill and had recovered to the point I could return to work," Mitnaul, 49, said in a telephone interview from the Eastern Shore Chapel, an Episcopal church where he has been director of music for 21/2 years.

Most people in the 1,600-member Cleveland church knew of his depression, Mitnaul said. But no one other than the pastoral staff was aware of the diagnosis, which was "put on the Internet for anyone in the world to see."

"It changed who I was, not just to the people at Fairmount church, but anyone who did a Google search," said Mitnaul, adding that he is healthy and that most Eastern Shore members are unaware of his medical history and the lawsuit. "Once it's out there, you can't get it back. It took a while to get it off the Web site."

Mitnaul said he settled out of court "because it was too stressful" to continue to be drawn into an increasingly antagonistic relationship with the church. In addition to the dispute over the Web site announcement, the church terminated his employment after he was unable to return to work on an agreed-upon date, saying he was "not physically or mentally able . . . to continue in the position in which you have so distinguished yourself," according to court documents.

On that matter, too, the appellate court ruled in Mitnaul's favor. But it's the privacy issue that has caught the attention of denominational legal offices, especially with last year's implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Click here to continue reading.