Dear Grace Community,
Every month we advertise our bus ticket ministry, and it occurred to me that some of you may not know what happens in and through that ministry. Our church, like many churches, receives regular requests for help with transportation. In the mid 2000’s it was decided to allocate some mission money every month to purchase bus tickets. When someone called or came by the church asking for transportation help they would receive a packet of 10 tickets – enough to get to and from work for a week.
In time demand was higher than the available tickets, and people were often turned away with no tickets. More mission money was allocated, and more people came by for tickets. Eventually a new system was put into place. Tickets would be given out once each month. Over the last seven years this process has evolved and evolved. Tickets are now given out on the 15th of the month at 8 am, though people start gathering by 7 am.
One evolution in the process involved a lottery. Everyone who came got a raffle ticket, and X number were drawn and those people received tickets. This was popular with ticket recipients and not with those who left empty handed. The key to the success of this ministry is that the Grace leaders work hard to listen to and work with the bus ticket community. When a question comes up about how our system works the guests are part of the decision-making process.
There are usually between 40 and 50 people here each month. Some people are here regularly, some only come once. My guess is that about a third of the regulars live on disability, and in addition to needing the assistance, they like the community. Probably half of our guests are what I would classify as working poor. Even with jobs, money is tight, and a little extra help really makes a difference.
The bus system went through a major overhaul last winter. The routes changed as did the ticket system. We now give out day passes, and everyone who comes receives four-five depending on demand.
A few years ago we added a worship service with communion to the morning. There are no strings attached, no requirement to worship in order to get tickets, and so not everyone comes. There are usually five to 10 at worship. I am grateful for the ways our guests interpret scripture and value the sacred time with them.
By adding the worship, I hoped to get more connected to this ministry, hoped to introduce myself as the church pastor to our guests. It turned out though that they already had a pastor. For years Kirk Anderson had been praying with them and listening to them. People from bus tickets call Kirk with prayer concerns, call him to celebrate a new job, call him to talk. Kirk makes hospital visits and gives rides. He’s the bus ticket pastor, and it’s a gift to be part of the congregation.
I encourage you to stop by some morning when we are giving out tickets and get a glimpse of the bus ticket church. The next time is October 14. Come early if you want to help, or come around 7:40 am for worship.