Our speaker was Pastor Becky Hansen from Elim Church, 685 13th Ave NE, just north of Logan Park.
When Pastor Hansen joined the staff of Elim, she began to notice the number of homeless people who live east of the river. She began interviewing some of them and started to develop a ministry among them. Seven years ago, they came into the church.
From the website: “December 2006 that she gathered a group of others from Elim and Hope Avenue was officially born. Every week, we deliver lunches, toiletries, and clothing to the homeless and spend time with them in friendship and prayer. Recently, many of those we met on the streets have been coming to the church for showers and a hot breakfast on Sunday mornings.”
There is always a need for more shelter. Hennepin County has only 763 beds in its buildings, 250 short of needs. In January two years ago, the number of people who were totally without shelter was 214. Hennepin County calls Elim and other places for extra beds once the temperature hits -10F.
The Eastside of Minneapolis is not an ideal place for these people because by ordinance, no shelters could be built away from downtown religious institutions. Nevertheless, people come here because our streets and buildings are perceived to be safe. Some 12-15 people in NE are outside 24 hours of the day, just within 1 mile of Elim. Another 15 live in their cars, and there are 10-12 people who spend their nights or cold weather traveling in the buses to have a warm and safe place to be.
The Heading Home, the Hennepin County Office to End Homelessness has more information at its home page http://www.hennepinca.com/
The program at Elim Church, Hope Avenue, has grown since it was first opened. Pastor Hanson made it clear that Hope Ave is a ministry of Elim. It is not a social service agency, but the staff at Hope Ave know a great deal about all the services that are offered here, and can suggest which might best serve a client. For example, Hope Ave. does not offer apartment deposit money, but they know where to send people for it.
Starting in 2013, they began offering a high protein breakfast at 7:15 along with abroad variety of services. Copied from the website:
- Breakfast – Breakfast is prepared and served by volunteers.
- Shower and Laundry – Showers are available at Elim and volunteers provide clean clothes and laundry services.
- Bible Study – Bible study and discipleship groups teach about God’s love for all people.
- Worship – All who attend Hope Avenue are encouraged to join the congregation in worship.
- Food Distribution – Groceries are available to anyone in need of food assistance.
- Clothing Closet – Clothes are available to anyone in need.
- Haircuts and Tattoo Removal – Thanks to Lisa and Bill Anderson for making this happen!
Pastor Hanson emphasized that this is a Christian ministry, which seeks spiritual outcomes. On Sunday morning, services are offered from 7:15 on, but the rules are that at 10:30, you either join the congregation in the sanctuary or you must leave. People who wish to leave at 10:30 may come back for grocery distribution and other services at 11:45.
Emergency shelter: As noted, Hennepin calls Hope Ave. when the temperatures are 10 Below, and at that point, they are open. Last year they offered emergency shelter 3 times, once was for 4 nights running. They sheltered 18 people. While the rules usually prohibit admitting anyone who has been drinking, at 10 below they will let people who are drunk shelter there. On shelter nights they work with the Second Precinct so everyone knows where people are. Pastor Hanson found that some people refused shelter when their dogs were not admitted, so at Elim, dogs may come in also.
Another part of Pastor Hanson’s ministry is, that if she knows there is a warrant out on someone and she spots them at Elim, she offers to accompany them to the Second Precinct. Her ministry doesn’t end there, however. She visits them in jail or prison (if it goes that far), keeping in contact as they make their way through the court process. Her view is that the church must work in parallel with the police and courts: ultimately they have goals in common.
Interesting observation about generation differences: Pastor Hanson has noticed that Boomers will contribute work and money to the program, but Millenials expect this program in the church.
For more information, check with the Hope Avenue website: http://elimchurch.com/hope-avenue/
There is more information about Elim Church http://elimchurch.com
COURTWATCH: We received updates on the cases we were watching from City Attorney Sarah Becker. I regret to report I couldn’t hear her, and my other reporter didn’t get back to me. If I missed something vital, it will be reported with the February minutes.
OLD BUSINESS: Our 32nd annual dinner for first responders is approaching. Several people volunteered their time and energy and are greatly appreciated.