The Rev. Rusty Baldridge joined the staff at the Cathedral of Hope in 2000 as the director of administration. In 2004 he was named associate pastor for community outreach and benevolence. He recently returned from a three day trip to Guadalajara, Mexico going there with a team from COH to determine how the church might minister to children orphaned by AIDS.
What is a benevolence pastor?
I oversee the Community Outreach Ministries and the Benevolence Ministry is a part of that. We have more than 300 volunteers who work on different ministry teams. One of those teams deals directly benevolence. Available funds are usually limited, and the benevolence team works very hard to put these resources to their best use. Each year, the Cathedral of Hope gives away more than $1 million worth of direct volunteer services and financial aid to the community. We provide opportunities for volunteer service through our partner organizations, adopted schools and charitable events.
Has the uncertain economy had an impact on contributions or requests or both?
Yes, the rising cost of gasoline has impacted the cost of food, utilities and many other daily expenses, and many marginalized people are having a difficult time with finances. So, we are experiencing an increase in requests for Financial Assistance. We have worked to immunize our congregation from the fear mongering of the media in order to continue our history of generosity.
Has the uncertain economy made your goal as a benevolence pastor more challenging?
I am always looking for new ways to expand and improve the ministry, either by adding new ministries, expanding volunteer opportunities or simply by refining the existing programs. The Benevolence Ministry is supported by the generosity of the congregation. We also have a Great Annual Yard Sale (GAYS) each year which provides most of the funding for this ministry.
What do you see more people needing help with?
The majority of the requests are for food, utility bills and rental assistance.
Have there ever been any odd requests?
When faced with financial hardship, people are most concerned with their basic needs.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 18, 2008.