Room at the Inn: Feeding Body and Soul
Dorsey Lyvers, a long time member of First Christian Church, is happy to talk about a ministry her congregation embraces. First Christian Church in Bardstown participates in the recognized helping ministry “Room in the Inn.” For a number of years, churches throughout the US have banded together to help people in need of shelter from the cold weather. Room in the Inn, a program that began in Nashville in the 1980s has since spread to more than 40 U.S. cities, bringing together churches that open their doors to the homeless.
Dorsey explains, “We just started our third year with the winter program that runs from November 1 to the end of March. This program is one that was started in Nashville several years ago by a Catholic priest who saw a lot of homeless people sleeping outside the church.
We have 7 churches in Bardstown that serve as hosts one night a week. First Christian Church serves on Thursdays. We pick our guests up at the intake center where they are vetted and we then bring them to our church where they are fed a hot meal by our church volunteers or community groups such as the Girl Scouts, a soccer team, and even a football team!”
She further adds, “We have cots set up in the gym for them to sleep on and we offer our showers for them to use. Two people from the church volunteer to spend the night and serve the guests a hot breakfast the next morning. The guests also leave with a sack lunch.
We have had up to 12 guests with the youngest being 2 years old and the oldest close to 80 years of age.
She recalls that last year, one guest said he remembered going to church when he was a child. He recalled that when the offering plate was passed he wondered what the church did with all the money. Then he said, “Now I know, it’s to help people like me”. That was a pretty touching moment for Dorsey and the other volunteers of the program, who feel they receive more than they give.
The church claims to have a group of 90 to 100-year-old nuns at the Sisters of Charity Mother House in Nazareth, just a mile or two from the church, who pray specifically for their Thursday night program! That’s sure to make it a success!
Since the church chose Thursdays as their night to provide the service, they always provide shelter on Thanksgiving night. For the last two years, they have invited church folks to bring some of their own Thanksgiving celebration feast or a special dish and enjoy a meal together. Some of the church’s young people spend the night at the church. Dorsey says “It’s like a slumber party. I always stay in the room with them and we have great conversations about homelessness.
It’s been a rewarding experience for many of our church families. Developing relationships and calling our guests by name has helped many of us begin to understand the plight of the homeless and learn what showing compassion means.”
In a post, Dorsey made recently on her church’s Facebook page, she stated:
“I wanted to share a poem that one of our Room in the Inn guests shared with us. We were all very humbled hearing this read by a person who is homeless yet felt very blessed. The poem was written by an unknown soldier.
I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for
but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered,
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
First Christian Church, Bardstown, you are a blessing to your community. Thanks be to God!