Update: Listen to my interview with Dr. David Apple, Director of Mercy Ministries at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia
The First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor’s experiment in providing a rudimentary shelter for the homeless is coming to an end.
Sometime this week, a wooden pavilion the church built in 2008 at a cost of more than $15,000, will be removed and given to the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
The church, 517 E. Washington St., tried but did not have success in managing “problematic behavior” among the homeless men who slept in the pavilion, co-pastor Paul Simpson Duke said.
The pavilion was built as an alternative for the homeless who had been sleeping on the church grounds, particularly under the large portico at the entrance to the building. Some church members felt unsafe when entering or leaving the church as a result.
The church wanted to be compassionate and did not want to remove the homeless; some were ineligible to receive assistance from local shelters, Duke said. So the church settled on the idea of building the pavilion, which has a roof and floor, but no walls, and put it on the side of the church’s property.
But it became a place for people to gather and drink and take drugs, Duke said. There were fights among the people who stayed there. And the church had concerns about noise and lewdness affecting its next-door neighbors, he said.
So where did this attempt go wrong? What are the obligations of the church (locally) to lose within its ministry area who are homeless mainly because of self-inflicted causes: drug abuse, anti-social behavior, criminal activity, etc.?
We’ll discuss these questions with Dr. David Apple from Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia today at 4:00 pm ET on The Paul Edwards Program. Dr. Apple is the Director of Mercy Ministry for Tenth Presbyterian. Through their ACTS (Active Compassion through Service) they mobilize 300 volunteers every week to ministry to the homeless, people with AIDS, at-risk children, single parents, nursing home residents, the incarcerated, and people with special needs.
By developing a Bible based approach to caring for the poor they have developed a program with well-defined ground rules. They have trained their people. They understand from a biblical perspective what the role of deacon is. All of this and more combines to produce a successful approach to ministering to real people in adverse circumstances.
Tune in today (Tuesday, June 1, 2010) at 4:00 pm for more.