By now those coming out of the compound near Elk have advised the public that are neither Davidians nor Christians. They are Koreshians.

That should soothe Baylor University chaplain Bill Austin, who spent some time trying to mesh what he was seeing at Mount Carmel with what he knew about Christianity.

There are obvious dissimilarities — including the killing arsenal assembled by the followers of Vernon Howell, a.k.a. David Koresh; including the questions about child abuse; including allegations of a hit list, and more.

But Austin drew a bead on one difference that has great pertinence to circumstances-scarred Waco.

“Christ lived in a society, not a compound,” said Austin. “He refused to live in a commune or ghetto and insisted that his followers should be salt and leaven in the world where they lived.”

Christ’s model, said Austin, “was moral separation in the midst of social integration. Christ came to participate in our human situation, not to withdraw to a holy compound.

Good point, no doubt lost on believers of all types. A luxurious cathedral or sanctuary can be a conduit, an action center, to helping people.

We’ve talked in a previous column about the stories the nation’s media will miss despite their long stay in Waco. One of those stories unfolds Tuesday night: Caritas’ 25th Feast of Caring.

The Feast of Caring is a remarkable event. It has drawn more than 1,300 people, all for a spartan meal of soup (albeit world-class soup) and bread.

Helping the hungry

The Feast of Caring, once known as the Poor Man’s Supper, is the chief money-raiser for Caritas, an interfaith agency that helps the poor. Last year Caritas distributes 2 million pounds of food and $1.5 million in help to over 24,000 poor people.

Caritas relies on an army of more than 2,000 volunteers and taps the good will of grocers who provide it with slightly dated food. It also summons produce from area gardeners and game hunters.

Caritas is the embodiment of ecumenical social action — no preaching, no pontificating, just good deeds for mankind.

The Feast of Caring is Tuesday night at 6:30 in the Waco Convention Center Media advisory: See people in Waco practicing what others preach.

Collaborating for youth

Wednesday at Baylor University another remarkable gathering will take place. It’s called “Partnerships for the Future: Investing in Families.” It’s sponsored by the McLennan County Youth Collaboration (MCYC) in cooperation with Baylor, the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and the Waco Center for Youth.

The daylong conference will feature seminars and brainstorming on issues addressing McLennan County’s childrens and teens.

This is the second such event such ramrodded by the MCYC. The MCYC’s aim is to get all agencies that serve children rowing in unison. Maybe the child hostages of Mount Carmel will be free by then. That will be one stiff community task.

One MCYC success story is Communities in Schools, in which a staffer is headquartered at Waco high schools to find help for students who might be beset by problems at home, such as poverty or a family tragedy. CIS simply makes sure that young people who need help get it from the resources Waco has.

Four years ago the MCYC, a brainchild of the Junior League, seized on the unglamorous task of getting all of the community’s youth-related service providers to come to one table and see where efforts cold be pooled and turf battles minimized.

Hmmmm. Seems like churches could stand the medicine.

The country is rife with preachers and hair-splitters, and people figuring the angel capacity of the head of a pin. And compound construction is up.

John Young’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Read the Tribune-Herald's 7-part investigative series on the inner workings of the Branch Davidians. Hours after Part Two appeared in print, the ATF raided the group's compound.

Read the Tribune-Herald’s account of the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound on Feb. 28, 1993. Four ATF agents and six in the compound were killed in the gunfight.

Read the daily news accounts of the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Elk, which began Feb. 28 and lasted until April.

Read the accounts of April 19 and beyond: FBI agents began inserting canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound in the early morning hours. By noon, it was on fire.