What do you get when you mix an Episcopal pastor, a couple Catholic deacons, a United Methodist pastor, a Lutheran pastor, 10 cases of ice water, and.....an Iman? You get “Collars on the Corner” of course. Collars on the Corner is a pop-up ministry conceived by Episcopal Pastor Kevin Stewart and Catholic Deacon Jim Banach. What began as, essentially, two men and a prayer box on a street corner, has rapidly grown to an unknown number of pastors, priests, and other clergy and laity gathered on random street corners in some of Milwaukee's difficult areas with coolers of water on ice and that same prayer box.

The faces change weekly according to individual schedules, but the mission remains the same; show the people that the church is here for everyone, not only those who fill the pews or the offering plate. There's no preaching, no judging, no proselytization; just a fulfillment of a basic human need--water (well chilled), unconditional acceptance and love, and an opportunity to request and/or share prayer, either aloud or placed in the box. All prayers are passed on to an ever-growing online prayer chain and on the Collars on the Corner Facebook page. Kevin and Jim now collect prayer requests weekly from 25 locations, including seven congregations of varying denominations, and twelve laundromats, from Cedarburg to Waukesha to Racine. 

Is everyone receptive to this ministry? Not at first. Particularly some of the teens and early twenty-year-olds are a bit suspicious of the motives at first. But, as they watch and see that the water really IS free, and no one expects anything from them, some even start to help. Isn't that the way ministry is supposed to work? "Collars" has even developed its own group of followers. Imagine that.

The one question that I'm asked frequently is, does this help bring new members into the church? The answer is, I don't know. We are all asked many times "Where is your church?" Whether anyone ever chooses to attend, I have no idea. The big thing is that, one way or another, Collars on the Corner has allowed them to be touched, if only for a short minute, by the love of God. And it doesn't have to stop. The more clergy members who care enough to become involved, the more area can be blanketed with that love. Kevin just received a letter from a pastor who joined in a couple of weeks, and now has been transferred to Indiana. She has now begun "Priests on the Porch" in her little town; and it's going extremely well. – by Pastor Lynne Hines-Levy

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