University of Virginia to Host Celebration of Homeless Organization's Volunteers; Charles Marsh to Give Keynote Address

April 9, 2008 — University of Virginia faculty, staff and students will be among the volunteers honored at a People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry reception at the John Paul Jones Arena, to be held Friday, April 11 from 6 to 8 p.m.

PACEM, an interfaith collaboration of congregations in Charlottesville that hosts a rotating homeless shelter during the cold-weather months, will celebrate the contributions of its volunteers. At the event, PACEM will hand out its first Golden Pillow and Hope & Hospital Awards to recognize individuals who have made outstanding efforts to help the area homeless.

Helping to honor the award winners will be Tom Shadyac, a major supporter of local homeless prevention efforts and director of "Bruce Almighty," "Evan Almighty" "Patch Adams," and other hit movies. Shadyac will also provide an update on the First Street Church Project, a community resource center that he plans to bring to downtown Charlottesville.

Charles Marsh, professor in the University of Virginia's Department of Religious Studies and director of the Project on Lived Theology, will present the keynote address, focusing on building a better community.

The Project on Lived Theology offers a variety of familiar and unconventional spaces where students, theologians and scholars of religion work together with practitioners and non-academics to understand the theological depth and detail of lived experience.

Marsh, who was raised in the South with a minister father, studied literature, philosophy and theological philosophy and now teaches theology and society and philosophical theology at U.Va.

Marsh is the author of "Wayward Christian Soldiers: Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity," "Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Promise of His Theology," "God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights," and "The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, From the Civil Rights Movement to Today."

Among the contributions to be lauded at this reception are those from U.Va. students at Madison House. These students volunteer for shifts to staff the rotating homeless shelter as needed.

U.Va.'s Medical Center has provided medical attention for the homeless through an indigent care program, holding two clinics at the Medical Center.

Many University-area congregations offer space on a rotating basis to provide shelter to the homeless over the winter. Among the congregations participating: St. Paul's Memorial Church, University Baptist Church, Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church (Unitarian Universalist), Westminster Presbyterian Church, and St. Mark Lutheran Church. Student organizations like  the Hillel Jewish Center and the Wesley Foundation have contributed funds and volunteers to PACEM as well.

The event is free and open to the public.