Founded in 1877, Pacific Garden Mission has stood as a lighthouse to Chicago’s poor and displaced for many years. We tend to think with rising crime, easy-to-obtain drugs, and the ever-present sight of homeless camps everywhere, what we are seeing is unprecedented. In reality, there is nothing new under the sun, and God has been caring for broken people through hearts like yours for generations.
January 2023 marks our 100-year ago move to State Street. Consider this article from the Chicago Evening Post written in 1923: “The mission is going to move. It is going to move nearer to those for whom it has prayed and labored. At 650 South State Street, a three-story brick building has been secured, where another chapter in the long story of winning men back to self-respect, decency and usefulness will begin tomorrow night. The Pacific Garden Mission is a vital, throbbing part of the history of Chicago. It was founded by Col. and Mrs. George R. Clarke 45 years ago. It was christened by Dwight L. Moody. South State Street is now the main artery of that lodging house district which abounds in the flotsam and jetsam of life. Within a few blocks of its new quarters, it is estimated that 5,000 men sleep every night, men adrift on a stream of swift and precarious currents, homeless and friendless men, derelicts, ‘without God and without hope in the world.’ To breast that stream and rescue from it ‘whosoever will’ is the mission’s aim.”
Another description of the area is found in Carl Henry’s book “A Doorway of Hope”: “The street outside seemed like a suburb of hell. It was the main artery of the lodging house district, where 5,000 men slept nightly. Flophouses and taverns were everywhere. Burlesque shows of the vilest kind played to crowds nightly. The labyrinth of lady barbers, pawn brokers, gambling dens, indicated man’s extremity and God’s opportunity.
As we begin the new year, Pacific Garden Mission is right where it should be in 2023, doing what it has always done, ministering to the needs of Chicago’s poor and hurting community. Thank you for everything your support and prayers make possible here at the Mission. Yes, there is a criminal element in our city. And yes, alcohol and drugs are still destroying many lives, but we stand ready to bring the message of hope and redemption through Jesus Christ to all who wash up on our shore; we always have and still do.
The Mission runs on your support and prayers. I am so thankful for you, and I wish you and your loved ones a very blessed and Happy New Year!
And thank you for anything you can give today to share warmth, food, and the Good News of Jesus.
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