Church As Warming Center

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?  (James 2:15-16)

Calderon mural ProvidenceThey’re calling Chicago Chiberia and Antarcditka as I write this, with record-breaking temperatures out here:  15 below zero, not counting wind chill yesterday.

What makes me happy and cozy (snow outside, warmth inside) means stress and humiliation for others (no heat + burst water pipes + power outages = moving everyone to a warming center) not to mention what it means for people are not paid on “snow days” when their offices and businesses are closed.

I’m struck by the fact that 100% of the PADS sites*  in my South Suburban Chicago area are church buildings.  This means that Every Night of the Week, houses of worship are open to welcome homeless men, women, and children for meals and a safe, warm place to sleep.  Some of these church buildings have laundry rooms and showers.

This, my friends, is why churches have buildings.  They are tools for ministry.

While many castigate the efficacy of Institutional Church and/or Mainline Denominations, the congregations that offer their space in our area include two Evangelical Lutheran congregations, three Community Churches, two Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations, a Mennonite congregation, an Episcopal congregation, five Roman Catholic congregations, and a United Methodist congregation.   Those who stay overnight are considered and treated as favored guests.

Imagine a world in which everyone who – not only steps foot in a church space but encounters a follower of Jesus (thus creating Church Space)  – experiences “warming.”  Physical bodies are warmed  – but also spirits are warmed, cold hearts experience a little heat, compassion is ignited, a fire is lit under the indifferent.

Imagine the church being a warming center beyond setting up coffee pots and cots.  Sweet.

*PADS = Public Action to Deliver is a shelter program

Image source here.  Interesting story.

6 responses to “Church As Warming Center

  1. One more! This is REALLY REALLY not meant tongue in cheek AT ALL…but as evidence that HCUMC’s situation is very common to churches right now…and I think the questions Jan poses at the end may stimulate thoughts before your Church Council meeting tonight. FYI, in Presby world, Jan’s position is to be the minister to the churches in the Presbytery of Chicago (Associate Executive Presbyter for Ministry) so moderating challenges is a huge part of what she does. The building is a great resource if it gets used…as are other church communities in the area if we are in relationship…

    Happy Tuesday! polly


  2. Reblogged this on katyandtheword and commented:
    USE God’s House 🙂


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  4. Pingback: 7 @ 9: Aristotle was not Belgian

  5. We were also a daytime warming center this week (in addition to our usual wednesday night hosting of PADS). It was great to spend time chatting with people who spent the day with us. We ate lunch together, talked about what they find inspirational, and also just worked in the same room on different things. One day, two of our guests brought everything they owned in from the car and used the tables to sort things. They said “it’s been a long time since we could just lay everything out and see what needs washing, what needs fixing, what needs tossing. Thanks for having tables.”

    So glad our tables could be their tools.


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