Listening with Compassion, Serving with Love

Posted on Jun 22, 2020 in NEWS AND REPORTS | Comments Off on Listening with Compassion, Serving with Love

Listening with Compassion, Serving with Love

To our community,

For more than 60 years, the Urban Mission has sought to provide a living witness of what it means to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.


As a faith-based organization, we define justice as it is found in the Bible. In Isaiah 1:17, God sets the standard for justice through the words of Isaiah, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” As members of the Urban Mission staff, who are also people of faith, we have a responsibility to meet, uphold, and live out this call to justice.

The examples in our Urban Mission history of acting justly are many. Confronting social justices such as poverty, food insecurity, housing instability, educational inequality, and racism are in our DNA. We lament, however, that to this day, we are still fighting these same injustices.


We would not stay true to our Christian roots if we did not include acts of mercy in our work. We commit to balancing the work of justice with our call as followers of Christ to demonstrate love and charity, mercy and grace to all we meet. Listening with compassion and serving with love is our motto at the Urban Mission and has been so since our inception. Why? Because listening to the stories of others works. It moves our hearts. It brokers understanding. It breaks down walls. Responding to these stories in love makes our witness of God’s peaceable kingdom and the beloved community even stronger. We believe this with every fiber of our being and it is even a written policy of the Urban Mission to always err on the side of grace and mercy as this is what Jesus did for us.


As an organization and as individuals, we know our tendency is to stray away from God’s good purposes. We constantly live in the tension of ensuring we are building God’s kingdom and not our own. As a result, humility must always remain a part of who we are and what we do. Will we fall short? Yes. Will we let people down? Yes. Despite our imperfections, we remain accountable to God and God’s people with a humble heart.

We know the work is hard and the bend of justice is long. There are times we want to fight, to scream, to cry, to give up – but the work is too important, the stakes are too high, and in honor of all those who have come before us who have fought and even died, we owe them our prayers, our time, our resources and our actions. As we are reminded in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good.”

In early 2020, the Urban Mission announced our theme for the year – Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a South African word that means, “I am, because you are.” When one person struggles, we all struggle. When one person hurts, we all hurt. Right now, our world is hurting. More specifically, our fellow Black and African American sisters and brothers are hurting, repeatedly suffering from the harmful effects of the sins of racism. This hurts our hearts.

Today, and every day, we renew our commitment to unveil and address the systemic racism faced each day by our friends, neighbors and family members. Yes, black lives matter to us because they matter to God.

In order to live into this commitment, and to live into the meaning of “ubuntu,” we commit to the following:

– To pray daily for justice, mercy, humility and above all, love to triumph in our world. We are specifically making space available at the Urban Mission to welcome the public to pray with us on a weekly basis.

– To listen to those suffering from injustice. In July, the Urban Mission will be hosting our second annual, “This Is My Story” event, this time geared to hearing the voices of some of our Black and African American brothers and sisters.

– To continuously educate ourselves and members of our community on racial injustice, specifically systemic racism.

– To intentionally support local and national Black and African American owned businesses.

– To come alongside local movements that work towards racial equity and equality.

– To advocate at the local, state and federal level for more just systems.

– To hold ourselves and others accountable to stay true to our commitments for as long as it takes.

In solidarity,

Rev. Ashley Steele, Executive Director

Cynthia Lytle, Program Director & Neighborhood Community Development Director

Vanessa Slappy, Administrative Director

Tiffany Beckwith, Community Engagement Director

Jodie Feezle, Client Engagement Director

Amber Wade, Financial Director

Terrence Rainbow, Facilities Director

Kelly Jeffers, Director of New Initiatives & Jobs for Life Coordinator

Aimee Livingston, Urban Thrift & Opportunities Center Director

Bethany Keister, Urban Thrift Warehouse Manager

Joe Roe, Urban Thrift Driver

Debra Bryan, Shelter Director

Christina Casazza, Shelter Assistant

Gregory Harris, Urban Mission Chef

Kevin Costello, Food Warehouse Director

Stanko Vosvick, Food Warehouse Driver

Kitty Lancaster, Fresh Market Director

Patti West, Food Warehouse Secretary

Toni Hubbard, Mission Rejoice Pastor

Ray Szypulski, Mission Rejoice Driver