Christians want to save people but also many outreach programmes are not interested with ramming God down ones throat instead are wisely more concerned with force feeding the needy with something more essential, like hot food. Fine examples of Christian outreaches in East London that do more practicing than preaching are: The Whitechapel Mission Church established in 1876 as a soup kitchen for destitute lads but has developed into a Methodist outreach programme that provides domestic facilities for the homeless; showers, clothes, counselling, postal address, legal advice, everything but a home. Similarly Acorn House is a rehab centre run in the grounds of and by the parishioners of St Leonards of Shoreditch. Also St John at Hackney turns the church’s the grand oval nave into a winter night shelter from October to April. I have been less impressed by the Alpha Course or Street Pastor programmes which are not geared to a specific local community or church but alternatively run on a more corporate level with cost charges for their volunteers. The larger corporate outreach programmes seem to focus on the needs of the volunteers over the needs of the client and therefore appear tokenistic not fulfilling a Jesus Christ level of masochism. It’s essential that Christians give back to society but it seems a never-ending debate on what is the most appropriate form of charity. Catholics have obviously decided that the only thing we need to give is the word of God and here lies the accusations of corruption, greed, and hypocrisy.
A Catholic service is an exercise in obedience but also a charitable act. When the congregation pray for forgiveness and receive the Holy Sacrament the congregation are playing a well-rehearsed role of guilty sinner seeking mercy and love from The Almighty. The ritual cannot be changed as it determines the relationship of power. Unlike the more celebratory evangelical services that raise the Holy Spirit, the Eucharist’s set formula creates a clear separation between God and his followers. Catholics hold the most rigid of church services and clearly see the body of Christ as all the food you need to eat on this Earth which would be admirable if the Roman Catholic Church was not the richest in the world. Not that you need to travel to the Vatican to see the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church even in the low, run down areas of London’s East End, you can see wealth peppered around the antique like architectural beauty of St Anne’s of Bethnal Green.