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It actually began well before that in the summer of 2009 when someone in our weekly staff meeting thought it might be a good idea to explore opening our own non-profit so we could receive outside funding for some of the work we’d been doing. It turned out that “should we start a non-profit” to help with ministry would be the starting point of a larger conversation that would end up asking much bigger questions:

  • What needs do people in our community have that are not being met?
  • Who are the agencies who work to help people in need, and what kinds of work do they do?
  • How can we be a part of that work–would our contribution be welcomed, and if so, how can we get busy helping?

We got together a group of people with expertise or interest in the non-profit social service sector, and we started with prayer. We asked God to guide what we firmly believed would be a discernment process.

“God, help us to know what you would have us do. Show us your will. Help us to be your hands in the world.”

We read scripture passages about justice and advocacy: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

And then, after taking care of the spiritual work, we got to the physical work: We canvassed the neighborhood. We asked a lot of questions of a lot of agencies. What we learned was astounding. A public school system where more than 50% of the high schoolers are on subsidized meal plans. Kids who go to bed hungry because parents prefer to spend their money on alcohol than on food. A staggering rate of homelessness and a community that is trying at best to ignore it, and at worst to drive it out of the town limits. An electric company with a corner on the market that is turning off electricity in homes with young children because of overdue balances of under $100. The list went on and on….

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It all started in October, with a phone call from a local community social service agency.

“We have a need. We’d like you to open a homeless shelter.”

This is our story.

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