COLORADO SPRINGS – The congregation that welcomes anyone through its doors did just that Friday night.
The First Congregational Church held a memorial mass, featuring touching music, as a way to remember the lives of 61 people. All of them were living homeless in either Colorado Springs or El Paso County.
This is the first time the El Paso County Coroner’s Office has conducted the count, according to church staff.
Mandy Todd, who serves as the church’s music and arts director, organized the mass, titled, “Walk with Me: A Requiem for the Streets”.
She said the church was already planning a requiem service, but once they learned of the statistic, they wanted to honor those that died.
“It’s a number that makes me feel sad, and I want to know what we can do to help lower that number,” Todd said. “This community, First Congregational Church, has made that a priority for our giving and our mission.
Their lasting message, through song, was to be courteous neighbors.
Jacque Franklin, minister of pastoral care at the church, said she hopes the mass helps people think critically about their perspective on the homeless.
“These folks who are in your backyard are your brothers and sisters too. They are all children of God, and we need to work together to make sure everybody has shelter and affordable housing,” Franklin said.
So Friday night, the walls reflected the energy of those no longer with us — from the harmonic tone of the choir to the symbolic sound of bells — ensuring their spirits ring on forever.
Earlier this month, El Paso County released its annual Point in Time Survey, which provides a count on the area’s homeless population. It showed a 13 percent decrease in the number of people sleeping without shelter.
However, church staff said they’re still committed to finding ways to help the homeless.