"Being a part of McKendree and staying in The Foundry has saved my life and given me a purpose," says Ronnie Milton, a resident and current manager of the congregation's shelter ministry.
McKendree United Methodist Church is a multiethnic, multigenerational and multicultural congregation in downtown Nashville, Tenn. "Every Sunday and throughout the week," says the Rev. Stephen Handy, lead pastor, "diversity is expected and embraced."
Ministry with the homeless has been part of McKendree for more than 30 years. The Foundry provides on-campus transitional housing for eight men, job training and placement, financial planning, veterans' case management, coaching and weekly spiritual formation.
In 2013, the church established Restoration Pointe, a non-profit agency overseeing The Foundry, meals twice a week for 350, a clothes closet and a dental clinic.
"The church needs to see God's poor as sacred persons who can broaden our hearts and offer grace, and not as a mission or service project to be completed," Handy says.
Energetic worship, Life Groups and an active children's program also drive McKendree.
Through Missional Partnerships, McKendree leverages personal and financial resources. The most recent partner is the General Council on Finance and Administration. Bobby Smith, a Restoration Pointe board member and GCFA employee, invited Michael Daniel, a Home Depot executive, to visit The Foundry. Daniel liked what he saw. In December, Daniel, along with Smith and GCFA chief executive Moses Kumar, presented an advance check to The Foundry for $5,000.
"Some people in our homeless population have a variety of emotional, psychological, financial and physical challenges," Handy says, "but we are open to God's creative means for connecting our hearts with their hearts. We have realized that we need our homeless maybe more than they need us."
Barbara Dunlap-Berg is associate editor, Interpreter