As most of you know by now, Canon Mark Sims, Rector of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, and Board Chair of Episcopal Charities of Southeast Florida, was issued a criminal citation for feeding the homeless on the streets of Ft. Lauderdale on All Saints’ Sunday, November 2nd. Canon Sims is facing a $500 fine and the possibility of sixty days in jail for sharing food with the homeless.
In spite of the possibility of facing another criminal citation Canon Sims is determined to continue feeding individuals living on our city streets. Additionally, he and many others throughout the Diocese continue to serve meals through the many programs operating in parishes, food banks, shelters and established food sharing programs.
Canon Sims, along with his parishioners and several friends have raised $20,000 over the past two days with the goal of using these funds to issue a challenge grant to the parishes in the Diocese with the hope of doubling the funds they have raised. The money raised will be matched, dollar for dollar, with any and all funds raised up to $20,000.
When I spoke with Mark last week he recounted how so many members who had attended the Diocesan convention, both lay and clergy, asked him, “What can I do to help?” Well, my brothers and sisters, now is the opportunity to show your support of our Diocese’s efforts to feed and care for the most needy who live amongst us, and to show your support toward his efforts to answer Christ’s call of us to care for the poor.
As your Bishop, I am asking all of you, over the next two weeks to take at least one collection at your parish that will be used for the sole purpose of putting food into the hands and mouths of the most needy people. Your contributions will be matched by the funds Mark has already raised, up to $20,000.
As we all share the Gospel message from Matthew 25 this weekend, let this be an opportunity to put words into action in our parishes and within the Diocese. I pray that you will use this simple act of sacrifice and compassion to bring hope to the individuals and families who might otherwise go hungry.
Please consolidate your individual parish’s collection, and forward your check to Episcopal Charities who will coordinate the collection.
+The Right Reverend Leopold Frade