A day of visual contrasts
January 18, 2024

By Paul Rouse

Today was a day of contrasts. Fort Pierce is a town I’ve been through before.  There are some areas of town that are thriving and other areas that are run down — the usual mix of poverty and middle class, perhaps leaning more toward poverty.

As we headed south, we rode on an island on the east side of the intracoastal waterway. For many miles, we passed one multi-million dollar home after another. Many of the homes we could see were huge. Many were hidden behind tall hedges and had s-shaped driveways so you could not see the house from the road. Lawns and landscaping were immaculate. The ones on the left side of us were feet away from the beach and clearly had beach access.

After we moved on from this island of wealth and privilege, we came out on a major road. I passed a man on his knees screaming at a man in a wheel chair. I have no idea what the altercation was about, but they both appeared to be homeless.    

As we got closer to Palm Beach, we rode briefly through an area of town that was run-down. I went down one street where several homeless were living in tents on both sides of the street. Some of these poor souls cheerfully said hi to me as I went by.

At the end of our 67-mile ride, we arrived at our host church, United Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches. Our hosts are awesome and they were so glad to see us arrive. They treated us to a delicious spaghetti dinner.  

We are in a large building across the courtyard from the main building. This is a large facility in a clearly well-off area of nice homes and thriving businesses. The main building is a beautiful Mediterranean style building with nice landscaping and red tile roof. But what’s interesting is that that building is just a shell. The inside was never finished. The congregation was much larger when they began work on the main building, but it has fallen off over the years and so far, they have not been able to finish the main sanctuary.

It made me think back to our host church in Cocoa Beach, Cocoa Beach Community Church. It was a much smaller “well used” facility. Yet it appears to operate a thriving outreach ministry to the local community.

A day of contrasts indeed.  

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