In the fall of 2013, Family Promise, a nation wide program that provides a way for religious congregations to work together to help homeless children and their families with a hand up to get back on their feet, was introduced to Great Falls Ministerial Association. The program was then brought to the community with several public meetings being held. Committees were formed as the program details were announced to the public.
Family Promise started over 25 years ago in New Jersey. The program guidelines and training was held. Churches were asked to open their doors to 4 families or 14 people, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 AM for families to receive a hot meal and a safe place to sleep. The day for the children is to be in school or organized play like the Boys and Girls Club. The adults spend their time at the Hub with Family Promise Staff which is at Central Christian Church, learning computer skills, life skills, parenting skills, looking for work, looking for affordable housing, having their breakfast, showering, laundry, lunch and rest area when their day is done and before they go to their host church at 5:00.
Churches that Host provide a room for each family that will remain undisturbed during the day. At Bethel, our former Sunday School rooms now are leased to TLC Center Daycare so we use tents – our guests go camping inside. Host churches have a support church if needed. Both the Host and Support church provide meals for our guests whether they be at the Hub or the church by working together to meal and activity plan. Also needed are volunteers to spend the night as two adults must be present from 8: to 7: when guests leave by provided transportation van or their private vehicle.
After much discussion and planning, churches were contacted and ask to sign up for this important ministry of helping God’s
children in their time of need. When homelessness was documented by the public school and public services, the number was about 89 children but now it is over 300. Bethel Lutheran Church was one of the first churches to sign a covenant to be a Host church. With the support of the church council and the congregation, we signed a support church and began our mission to gather needed items like sheet, blankets and other supplies needed. The beds are provided by Family Promise as is the van and trailer for transportation of both equipment and families that do not have their own vehicles.
With the total number of 13 Host churches, the program requires us to serve four to five times a year for one full week at each cycle. This mission has brought church congregations together and also churches of different faiths together while helping many families find their footing and getting back to an independent life. This is truly a mission that has many lasting benefits to churches and families. We know we are doing God’s Work with Our Hands. We are making a difference.
If you would like more information or to volunteer contact Judy and Mark Statham firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Bethel Host Week May 17th - 24th