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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Pastor Brings 'Church' to City's Homeless: 'Hopefully One Day This Church Isn't Needed'

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Not all heroes have capes. Not all pastors have pulpits.

If you shave down the niceties, the comforts and the luxuries many churches enjoy and employ in their worship, and bring the concept of “church” to the bare minimum, what do you have? What is a church, at its very core?

The answer you get may vary a little depending on who you ask, but many people would say that it’s a group of people coming together to worship and learn about God.

The Community of St. Joseph might not fit some people’s notion of a “church,” but the group is faithfully doing the Lord’s work every Sunday morning for a group that desperately needs care and recognition.

Even Kevin Veitinger, the pastor, admits that he doesn’t quite fit the mold.

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“I’m a little different than your typical pastor,” he told WJCL, “especially one you’ll find in the Bible Belt.”

That’s because The Community of St. Joseph serves the homeless community, and takes up its station in an empty field next to a homeless camp in Savannah, Georgia. With a simple setup including folding tables and a wooden cross, Veitinger brings Jesus to the needy.

Started in October 2015, the group’s Facebook page states that it is “A ministry with the homeless in Savannah, GA every Sunday for breakfast at 8:00AM and worship at 8:30 off of Louisville Rd & Pritchard St along the canal.”

The goal is to feed both body and soul, as well as recognize the humanity in a group that often gets ignored.

“Everybody is our neighbor,” the pastor urges. “It’s important to know we have neighbors living on the streets every day. They’re as much a neighbor as the people who live next to us.”

“Ever since I’ve been coming here, I’ve tried not to miss one Sunday,” Daniel Glover, a parishioner, said in a 2016 interview. “It’s a great way to break the stress of the week.

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“You come up here and you see all the wonderful people and we’ve got a wonderful pastor and he gives a good sermon every Sunday. And we all love each other here, it’s just like one big family.”

Many in the local homeless community are invited to participate in ways they might not if they walked into a brick-and-mortar church. This church is for them, and while it may not have walls or air conditioning, they are welcomed to help with the music and readings, to really be a part of things.

Veitinger says that, ideally, the residents of the tent city would be able to find more stable housing situations, but he knows that it’s the first difficult step of many to help the homeless community beat their demons, find work and assimilate back into society.

And his end goal? To disband the church — for one specific reason.

“Hopefully one day, this church isn’t needed,” he said. “We have everyone in a safe place, and we don’t need to have churches in homeless camps.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking