Two Coastal Bend District United Methodists from different congregations organized their communities together on Holy Saturday to break bread and serve the homeless at South Bluff Park. The picnic included Cowboy Stew, hygiene bags, and representatives from the local Salvation Army for housing needs. Over 225 received a hot meal, a sandwich bag meal to-go, a hygiene kit, housing information, clothes, and a prayer card.
Jennifer Hoell from First UMC, Portland was looking for ways to resume the “Surviving the Night” homeless ministry while their church recovers and rebuilds from Hurricane Harvey. Rev. Nancy Foley from St. Paul UMC was a new pastor who felt called to start a homeless ministry at her new appointment. Portland UMC Pastor Rev. Larry McRorey introduced the two and they started planning at a local café.
Foley and Hoell started gathering partners and organizers from Homeless Issues Partnership (HIP) Salvation Army, Metro Ministry, Tacos Not Bombs, and the Wesley Community Center. Grace UMC and First UMC, Corpus Christi provided cookies, bowls, lids, and spoons. The Coastal Bend Men’s Emmaus team provided fruit, bread, and a stereo system. Surviving the Night used the St. Paul UMC kitchen to assemble the meals and kits.
“We had plenty of everything,” said Rev. Foley. “Surviving the Night was organized and so efficient. They were happy to be called back into service. We believe it was the beacon of life for God’s love in community.”
For Hoell, it was a new and exciting experience to gather with others outside their church to participate in homeless ministry. They are already preparing for the next Lenten season.
“It was nice to partner with other churches and organizations in a week and a half. We don’t usually do that because everyone is always so busy,” said Hoell. “We are doing it again. The more the merrier, that’s for sure.