The BIG IDEA
January’s BIG IDEA
The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’ – Matthew 25:40
Located less than 50 yards from Interstate 95 in Richmond, Virginia, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church stands as a bridge between middle class neighborhoods and low income housing projects. In 2000, this 650 member church in the historic Jackson Ward community accepted the invitation of the city to serve as a Cold Weather Overflow Shelter.
Each night between October and April that the temperature drops below 35 degrees, Sixth Mount Zion opens it doors to the homeless from 7pm to 6am. Participants in this program are sent to the church by the city’s main Cold Weather Shelter, where they are provided food and other necessities.
The church’s nonprofit arm, the Gilpin Jackson Center, coordinates the overflow shelter through paid staff and church volunteers with funding provided by the city of Richmond. During the planning stages, the Gilpin Jackson Center served as an oversight committee, ensuring that the church maintained proper insurance and legal counsel.
In the 21st century, when African Americans comprise approximately 45 percent of the homeless population in America, many churches still turn a blind eye to the needs of the community. However, Sixth Mount Zion is answering the call to be a prophetic ministry by reaching out to those often considered “the least of these.” Considering the existing number of people who have lost their homes during the current foreclosure crisis, the number of additional foreclosures that are on the horizon, and the number of African Americans who have lost or will lose their jobs during this deepening recession, it is crucial that the African American church community play a greater role of ministering the needs of the homeless. If your church is interested in starting or expanding its homeless ministries, the following resources may be of help:
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Coalition for the Homeless Resources Page
US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Homes and Communities department
HUD Homelessness Resource and Exchange
Churches that have implemented homeless programs
Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church
14 W Duval St
Richmond, VA 23220
Pastor Tyrone Nelson
Carolina Missionary Baptist Church
9901 Allentown Rd
Fort Washington, MD 20744
Pastor Anthony E. Moore
For one week during the winter, Carolina Missionary Baptist Church serves as a homeless shelter and provides food, hygiene items, spa treatments, haircuts, and games to homeless residents of their community.
Lindsay Street Baptist Church
550 Lindsay St NW
Atlanta, GA 30314
Pastor Anthony A. W. Motley
For over 16 years, Lindsay Street Baptist Church has ministered to the homeless through a weekly Bible study and more recently, Sunday morning worship service geared specifically for homeless members of the community, and they provide meals after these events.
St. James CME Church
285 Calle Cebu
Salinas, CA 93901
Pastor Darrell Wesley
Every first Monday of the month, St. James CME in partnership with a local community organization, sponsors a meal for local homeless people in the Salinas community.