Mothers Fighting Poverty: Rev. Kathleen Wilder, St. Louis, Missouri

Leading up to Mother’s Day, the NCC Poverty Initiative is sharing a series of stories lifting up, celebrating, and praying for mothers who are fighting poverty and alleviating suffering in their communities.CARES-9

Prayer for Kathleen: God, thank you for expressing your love through Kathleen to hungry and sojourning people of St. Louis. Thank you for filling her heart with love of her neighbor. When times get tough, fill her with your grace and courage. Bless and strengthen her family and her work. In good times and bad, let her life overflow with the deepest joy that only You can give. Amen.

Rev. Kathleen Wilder is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and has pastored Centenary United Methodist Church in St. Louis since 2007. She has cultivated a ministry of caring and courageous people with a strong commitment to serving the city of St. Louis. Centenary church provides a significant part of St. Louis’ plan to end homelessness through The Bridge (formerly CENTENARY CARES), the primary drop-in center for the City of St. Louis. Through The Bridge ministry, the church has served over 200,000 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners seven days a week to homeless and food insecure persons since November 2005, and provides many additional social services as well. Rev Wilder is an outspoken advocate for social justice, and a deeply compassionate and hard working person. She holds up her staff, and is a great collaborator with other ministries in St. Louis. She is the loving mother of three children; Andy, Jesse and Grace.

Recognized by: Dr. Deborah Krause and Dr. Martha Robertson of Eden Theological Seminary

Mothers Ending Poverty: Dawn Peters, River Rouge, Michigan

Leading up to Mother’s Day, the NCC Poverty Initiative is sharing a series of stories lifting up, celebrating, and praying for mothers who are fighting poverty and alleviating suffering in their communities.

Prayer for Dawn: God, thank you for expressing your love through Dawn to her neighbors in Flat Rock who are hungry, and to her family. Thank you for filling her heart with love of her neighbor. When times get tough, fill her with your grace and courage. Bless and strengthen her family and her work. In good times and bad, let her life overflow with the deepest joy that only You can give. Amen.Image

Recognized by Rev. Dr. Terry Gallagher and Sinclair Gallagher, United Church of Christ ministry team and founders of Sacred Conversations.

We first met Dawn and her children at the First Congregational Church in Flat Rock when we started the community meal program in 2006. 

She and her family were one of the first guests to come.  With the severe economic decline in the area, and her hours reduced driving the school bus, Dawn said coming to the weekly community meal was the only way she could ‘take her kids out to eat’. Over the years, we have seen Dawn struggle to support her family.  We were pleased to be able to provide modest assistance through the Flat Rock Community Meal and the Gibraltar Food Pantry.
When her car broke down, she would walk the 7 miles to work.  When her youngest was 1 1/2 and not walking, she took her to all the specialists available through local Medicaid resources to get the necessary help.  When she was not talking at age 3, she took her to different specialists. When her 10 year old son was diagnosed with autism, she took on that challenge simultaneously dealing with her own health issues.  As a single Mom, struggling to make ends meet, Dawn still found ways to count her blessings, and out of these blessings the means to help others. 
Dawn and her children work as part of the “Feed Da Streetz” Team in the poverty stricken neighborhoods where they live. They seek out left over produce and other food commodities and distribute them to neighbors. They have now expanded this work to include harvesting salvageable items from homes slated for demolition and again disperse these items to neighbors in need. This past Christmas, when asked what gift we might purchase for the family they asked for a power tool and some work gloves to help their salvage work provide even more items for their neighbors in need.

There is not an “It’s a Wonderful Life” movie type ending to this story. Dawn still struggles to feed, clothe and house her family everyday. Multiple health issues abound, their home still gets extremely cold in the winter, that old decrepit truck still breaks down frequently and so miles & miles need  to be walked by Mom & her kids alike.  But there is something more to this life then a fairy tale ending would provide. There is a sense of purpose & wholeness that derives it’s joy from the life action of “love of neighbor” and this one family’s actions spills over into a life example for all of us. This is the stuff of a way of life that the Gospel calls us to live.