Haywood Street is a United Methodist mission congregation and faith-based nonprofit founded in 2009 by Rev. Brian Combs.
Core programs include weekly worship, a clothing closet, community garden, a free community lunch known as the Downtown Welcome Table, and Haywood Street Respite, which offers a safe place for adults experiencing homelessness to stay on a short term basis after being discharged from a hospital. Those who eat and worship together at Haywood Street are individuals carrying all their worldly possessions in ragged backpacks as well as privileged professionals, stay-at-home moms, students and the working poor.
The core programs provide a platform for the ministry of relationship, which can be defined simply as the act of “being with” and speaks to our deepest identity. It contrasts with “doing for” and requires spending time together, talking and listening, serving and being served, giving and receiving. It forms the basis for our unique and transformative companion ministry.
Jesus takes up residence in a homeless laborer born out of wedlock into a world with no vacancies. Come among us as an outcast, he ministers with a bias: the sick are healed, the untouchable are touched, the poor are prioritized. Present in what’s most vulnerable, he blesses the brokenness. Believing that Church is located where Jesus shows up, Haywood Street invites what is most spiritually disruptive: encountering the sacred in the person most unlike you.
Jesus reveals his ethic through story: a shepherd abandons the flock to rescue one lost lamb; a Good Samaritan pays the bill for an enemy’s care; a father throws a party for his rebellious son. Grace is always surprising, a refusal to reward the deserving, a gesture of love that’s unconditional, an attempt to overwhelm with more than just enough. Translating his stories into service, Haywood Street wants to be wasteful in ministry, surpassing basic needs with the practice of plenty.
Jesus trespasses the boundaries of dining etiquette. Inviting all to his Table- the table of worship, the table of hospitality, the table of belonging- he knows that eating together is a transformative act where stereotypes are subverted, where all are made equal in the giving and receiving, where every child of God has a seat. Convinced that holy things happen when food is shared, Haywood Street intends for every gathering to be a family meal.