Memorial service honours those who died while facing homelessness
Remembering those who lost their lives while experiencing homelessness was the focus of a special memorial service on 8 August. For many of those present, the service provided the first opportunity to formerly acknowledge friends they had met and lost, and to remember people that society too often forgets.
Hosted by Wesley Mission chaplain, Michael Tang, the service was held at Shannon’s Reserve in Surry Hills. Around 50 people from the community gathered and were able to share with others who had faced similar losses. Also present were local church leaders, staff from other inner-city community service organisations and City of Sydney councillors, Christine Forster and Craig Chung.
“Today provides an opportunity for us to honour those who’ve passed away, who might otherwise not have been acknowledged,” said Mr Tang. “All life is of great value and precious to our Lord.”
The service began with A Welcome and Acknowledgment of Country by Elizabeth Lee from St Vincent de Paul’s Mathew Talbot Hostel accommodation service. Mitchell Evans, from The Salvation Army, followed with a prayer and Bible reading from John 14:1-6. Songs were led by members from Wesley Mission’s Blue Sky youth congregation.
Special messages were delivered by Rev David Tsai from the Chinese Presbyterian Church and James Fong from Cornerstone Church.
“God is so concerned for the homeless that in His house is room for everyone,” said Mr Tsai, referring to the Bible passage. “And Jesus cares so much for the homeless that he’s not only preparing a place, but he’s coming back to take you to be where He is!”
Following the performance of two songs by primary students from Crown St Public School, a special time of reflection was given to remember those who had passed away. A memory string with cards provided a space where people could honour and acknowledge friends by name who had died, while facing the extreme hardship of homelessness.
This service was the first of three memorial services to be held throughout Homelessness Prevention Week, from 7-13 August. The memorial services are a cooperative venture of Hope St (Baptist Care) and Woolloomooloo Baptist Church, Cana Communities, David’s Place, Jesus Cares, Matthew Talbot Hostel (St Vincent de Paul Society), Streetlevel (The Salvation Army), South Sydney Uniting Church, Urban Ministry, Wayside Chapel and Wesley Mission.