A New Model for our Community: Church Warming Centers

You and your church could help

Yesterday, January 18, The Inlander published Nate Sanford’s article “More than 200 Spokane churches were asked to open their doors to homeless people during dangerously cold weather — four agreed” Please click on that title and read it. It’s a great introduction to a new local effort grounded in the experience of Julie Garcia of Jewels Helping Hands. The four churches that agreed to do so carefully opened their doors to the unsheltered during the recent cold snap under agreements with and oversight by staffers of Jewels Helping Hands, a number of volunteers, and some help from the neighbors. With twenty beds in each church, eighty beds in total, the effort clearly does not solve the problem of unsheltered homelessness in severe weather, but it helps—and, perhaps more importantly, as an example of something that worked well, the number of participating churches could expand.

Of 227 local churches contacted:

…almost every church said they were interested in supporting the effort. But many expressed concern about potential liability, damage to their buildings and other things that could go wrong.

The biggest hurdle, Edmondson says, was fear.

Perhaps the current successful trial run of four churches and eighty beds will allay some of the fear Edmondson identifies and free up some other churches to come on board. This cooperation of the current four is an example of the kind of Christian spirit I was brought up to believe in. It focuses on caring for one’s fellow humans, the teachings of Jesus as expressed in the canonical Gospels, rather than dwelling on preparing oneself for the End Times based in the imagery of the Book of Revelation—as so many modern mega-churches seem to do. One hopes that such Christ-based cooperation of these original four churches will spread by example.

I’ve met and talked with, and count as friends. the majority of the people quoted in Nate Sanford’s article. Among those who have volunteered to take a short shift (with a Jewels staffer) at one of the church warming centers, all describe it as a very positive experience. Here’s a link to a five minute videodescribing the experience and how to sign up or help out in other ways.

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. Sadly, there certainly are pastors and churches in the wider Spokane community that seem unlikely to come on board. See “Can Brian Noble Hear Himself?”.