Reflections from Jill Gottenstrater


Q. Can you share a memory from Haywood Street’s very first year? Why do you think this memory has stayed with you? 
A. I will never forget this day back in the very early days of Haywood Street. Brian was sharing a message of Jesus’ love from the front of the sanctuary; the pews were not packed like they are today, but there was a fair amount of both housed and unhoused in the room. All eyes up front, until a deep, loud snoring sound came from the back of the sanctuary. Everyone turned to see what it was. The snoring continued and some of us kind of smiled because it was one of those awkward moments that’s not supposed to happen in CHURCH. Others had looks of disdain as if to say, “Come on! Show a little respect! You’re in church…pay attention!”
Brian’s voice brought our eyes and attention back to the front of the sanctuary. He said, “That’s what this place is about. A place for our sister back there, who sleeps outside most nights, to rest in a safe place. In God’s house. Let her sleep.” Brian then moved on with his message without missing a beat, but his words about our sister who was sleeping so soundly at the back of the sanctuary was the only message any of us needed to hear that day. This powerful memory and lesson of true compassion, grace, and love will always be with me. Every single one of us, at all times, is welcome to rest in the loving care of Jesus. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew11:28
Q. What is one of the best changes you’ve seen over the years? 
A. Serving the meals family style is the best! I love how the Welcome Table has become warmer and more welcoming over the years. It was a beautiful thing in the early days, but it just keeps getting better.
Q. What keeps you coming back to the home of Holy Chaos?
A. The community and love between brothers and sisters that aren’t just like you.
Q. What is the Haywood Street you envision five years from now?
A. I see anyone who walks through the doors of HS feeling the unconditional love of God through His Spirit and the community He has assembled.