Dear Haywood St. Family,
After long bouts of prayer and restless nights of discernment, Haywood Street has decided to end the Sunday Downtown Welcome Table and worship service. The last Sunday of ministry will be February 4th, 2024. A multitude of factors informed this agonizing choice:
First, compassion fatigue. After seven years of working weekends holding safe space for the ravages of street suffering, mainly Methamphetamine induced psychosis and Fentanyl overdose reversals, our frontline ministers need more expansive time to metabolize vicarious trauma off the clock. Second, money. As giving contracts nationwide, including to many local non-profits, and the cost of preparing a homemade breakfast for a growing multitude has nearly doubled, we are grappling with a new financial reality.
Third, capacity. With the addition of high-access beds in Respite for siblings contending with substance use disorder, increased pastoral presence at Compass Point Village and the Sweeten Creek Behavioral Health Center, and the groundbreaking of Haywood Street Community Development’s first deeply affordable housing project, staff need wider margins for emerging ministries. Finally, mission. Haywood Street is not a social service agency addressing food insecurity. Yet, because of a desperate rise in hunger, we spend far more time transacting a perishable resource rather than living into our calling, “relationship, above all else.”
As it gets harder to be poor downtown, to gather without suspicion, we grieve this loss alongside threadbare congregants, persistent companions, and displaced neighbors with nowhere else to belong. During this season of lament, we’ll also use this unplanned Sunday sabbath to reorganize around being nothing less than a church every Wednesday, a holy place where we linger in slow conversation and sacred communion at the table of God.
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