‘A Champion of the Last, Last and Lost’: Rev. Bradley Walmer Wins United Churches of Lycoming County’s 2022 Ecumenical Service Award | News, Sports, Jobs


In presenting the Rev. Bradley Walmer with this year’s Lycoming County United Churches Ecumenical Service Award, Pastor Tammey Aichner, Principal, listed Walmer’s many acts of service as pastor of the New Covenant United Church of Christ and for his work in the community.

“You teach us all, showing us what Jesus would do if he were walking our streets today; lifting up and serving Christ in his life of love and service to the faith community in Lycoming County and beyond; leading worship services in our many institutional settings; filling where there is a need”, Aichner said.

Aichner highlighted Walmer’s work with major student Bible studies at Penn College, as well as work with the Amado Community Council. “toward human rights and justice for all by advocating for economic and racial justice.”

“You seek to understand others instead of judging. You become a face the community recognizes as an advocate for the last, the last, and the lost.” she said of Walmer.

“This is a total surprise…I don’t know what to say other than thank you” Walmer told attendees at the UCLC annual meeting.

It was announced at the meeting that Rise-Up Bakery has now become one of the UCLC ministries. Other ministries include Shepherd of the Streets, Food Pantry, and Campus Ministry.

The evening’s featured speakers focused on “The place we call home” and included representatives from American Rescue Workers, Family Promise, Sojourner Truth Ministries, and Journey House, all of whom serve the homeless population in the community.

“We often hear people say that there are no homeless people in Williamsport. I don’t see anyone sleeping on the street, but there have been people sleeping on the street, but fortunately thanks to the agencies here today, a lot of people don’t have to sleep on the street.” said Valerie Fessler, director of development and community engagement at ARW.

The agency, which operates three emergency homeless shelters, Fessler said, has 70 different people sheltering at its facility on any given night.

Rescue Workers also operates a food pantry in partnership with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank where, Fessler said, 500,000 pounds are distributed annually to 4,000 families.

Although it operates primarily as a soup kitchen and serves about 32,000 meals a year, Sojourner Truth Ministries also runs an after-school children’s program and a home for women emerging from homelessness at House of Hope, according to Pastor Angelique. Labadie-Cihanowyz. , director.

Part of the program at House of Hope includes teaching women life skills.

“We have identified 60 life skills that people need based on interviews with people who have experienced homelessness,” she said.

Labadie-Cihanowyz shared that the need is great and House of Hope is hiring additional staff for the program.

“We’re not here to judge you, but we encourage people in their sobriety and just do the right thing and share Jesus Christ with people in the meantime.” she said.

Also speaking at the event, Jenny Hull, executive director of Lycoming County Family Promise, invited meeting attendees to imagine what a homeless person looks like.

“Did you see me? Probably not. We usually think of the guy who lives under the bridge drinking out of a paper bag.” she said.

She shared that at one point, she had been homeless.

“What we have now with Family Promise is a holistic approach to homeless families,” she said.

Family Promise offers a rotating shelter where they partner with churches, where families can stay in the program three, nine months or more, depending on the housing market. They also have a United Way grant where if they can save up to $2,000, United Way will match those funds.

“Many times people who come from nowhere do not understand that they can overcome that day in which they are living, get out of the crisis and have a goal for the future. That is the hope we offer at Family Promise.” Hull said.

Operating as a ministry of New Covenant UCC, Journey House opened its doors in 2007 to offer shelter to homeless families, the only agency doing so at the time.

Since then they have served more than 100 adults and 200 children, according to Rhonda McDonald, executive director.

“One of the unique things about our program is that it’s about self-sufficiency,” McDonald said.

“We require that they be employed, that they get a job if they come there and don’t have a job. It’s about being self-sufficient when you leave so you never have to endure homelessness again.” she said.

Another unique thing about the program at Journey House is that they provide everything for the family to move into a fully furnished two-bedroom apartment when they arrive, and if they successfully complete the program, they can take all of that with them.

Speakers expressed concern for those they serve due to the economy and lack of affordable housing.

“All of our agencies will be affected. We are constantly getting calls and I have about eight applications right now for families who have already been evicted and either live with someone or are in one of the shelters and are trying to find a place.” McDonald said.



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