Ethics Hero: Pastor Thomas Keinath

Rev. Keinath on holiday, under the overpass

Thomas Keinath is the pastor at Calvary Temple in Wayne, New Jersey, a so-called mega-church with a 2,000-plus seat sanctuary in an affluent community. It was time for him to take some vacation time, so he did. And what did he do?

Keinath spent his week off living with the homeless in the very un-affluent community of nearby Paterson, New Jersey. During the day, he wandered through the streets along with desperate, sick and destitute. At night, he stayed with them as they built fires to keep warm in freezing cold,  and slept with them, under a bridge, surrounded by discarded hypodermic needles.  He wrote down the life stories of the people he met, so he could learn from their life stories.

“I needed to understand what they were experiencing, and I needed to feel their pain.  How could I bring help or healing to the streets if I did not know what their needs are?” the pastor told reporters.

Now, after his stark experiences, he has led his parishioners at Calvary Temple to reach out to the homeless in the town so close, yet so far away in so many ways. Vans from the church bring the homeless to services at the church on Sundays. Church teams have been delivering food and clothing to the homeless in Patterson on a weekly basis, and Keinath has held Friday evening Bible study with his new friends who live under the highway overpass. The Reverend is developing plans to  build a center that will “shelter the homeless while helping them recover from problems, including substance abuse.”

Don’t bet against him. I won’t.

 Thomas Keinath is another one of those rare people that are so intrinsically ethical that it’s hard for normal people to identify with them. Fortunately, they are not as rare as we think. And rather than look at them like space aliens or circus freaks, we need to see them for what they are: true role models of selflessness and altruism, whose examples and inspiration can make us better, even if we never approach the high standards they set for themselves.

7 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Pastor Thomas Keinath

  1. Pingback: Public Affairs – Giving Back | 93.3 WMMR

  2. Mr Pillings needs to look at the definition of a mega-church… First of all It is not “Joel Osteen’s church. The church belongs to God, secondly When was the last time Mr Osteen ever experienced living as the people he wants to minister to? Just saying!

    • Dallas: I was neither criticizing those churches nor their pastors. I was only suggesting that the term “mega-chuch” (which is often used negatively by columnists) was a little too overblown for Pastor Keinath’s congregation. Personally, I prefer a church that’s small enough to where the congregants know each other and their pastor on a face-to-face basis. The problem with large churches tends to be that of the pastor becoming distant from not only his assemblage, but from God due TO this factor. However, both men seem to be keeping God first in their witness, which is what one should expect from an ordained minister.

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