First Baptist Church in downtown McMinnville, Oregon, is practicing radical hospitality.
Starting in December 2013, the church opened the STAR room for two hours Monday and Friday mornings. Serving Those ARound Us is staffed by a rotating team of volunteers who serve breakfast to all who choose to come by, including some homeless neighbors. Sandwiches are packed to send with the visitors as they leave on Fridays.
In addition, there is a clothing bank available to visitors to the STAR room, as well as children who attend the day care center held at the church. Many items are donated; winter coats and other items are purchased as needed. Members of the church also knit scarves, mittens and hats to be given out.
A food pantry is available to meet needs of food insecurity, and needy individuals can receive bus passes and laundry vouchers. Showers are made available at certain times to allow homeless attendees an opportunity to bathe.
The STAR room began with five people attending on the first day and has had as many as 53 people in attendance. Within the first nine months, the list of guests who visit the STAR Room has more than 175 names on it.
This ministry has been supported by gifts from the volunteers and church members, as well as an ABCUSA Matthew 25 Grant and a grant from a local bank. Local businesses have donated coffee and some food.
This fall the church has decided to add a portable toilet on their property, allowing some of these homeless neighbors a place to use the bathroom in privacy when the church is not open.
A key part of the ministry is the relationships being built between the volunteers and the guests. The volunteers sit and share a cup of coffee with the visitors, getting to know them and sharing in an informal way. Many lives have changed from this shared compassion as a community.
First Baptist Church of McMinnville is truly serving as the hands and feet of Christ to its neighbors in need.
The Matthew 25 Grant, sponsored by ABCUSA, is funded by a generous donor whose goal is to help meet the needs of “housing, feeding, education and health with regard to the less fortunate.” Ministries must be in relationship with American Baptist Churches to be eligible to apply. Awards for the Matthew 25 grant are made twice a year, in April and October, with application deadlines of March 1 and September 1. To view the guidelines and download the application form, click here.