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Churches offering refuge from freezing temperatures

Churches offering refuge from freezing temperatures

Many churches are offering shelter to people who do not have a warm place where they can stay out of the bitter cold challenging much of the U.S. Is your church open for those who would otherwise have to sleep outside or in unheated buildings?

From WKMS Murray KY:

Over the week, temperatures in our region are expected to drop into the single digits, and possibly even lower. Listed below are resources available in our listening area to help combat against the harsh cold. Included are a list of local warming shelters, road condition links, tips for keeping pets warm as well as a survival kit checklist.

Warming Shelters…

In Murray, St. John’s Episcopal Church is open from 6pm to 8am every night providing dinner, bed and a shower.

Story also includes tips, for those who have homes, cars and pets, for surviving the cold.

Fr Jonathan’s blog reflects on a homeless man dying on the steps of Grace Church (update: he did not die from the cold but the questions remain for communities):

Sunday night, a homeless man died on the steps just outside the entrance to the Men’s Drop-In Shelter. I don’t know much more than that. Apparently he had left Grace to go to one of the overflow shelters to spend the night. I don’t know what the cause of death was. I don’t know if his death was at all related to the brutally cold weather. I don’t know if others have died already in this brutal cold.

Grieser asks:

Our immediate tendency is to want to place blame when deaths like this occur. Why does Porchlight operate its shelters in this way? Why didn’t the city or county prepare better for the cold weather that had been predicted for a week? If transportation had been provided, would this man have survived?…Why do we lack adequate facilities for the neediest people among us? Why do we lack a men’s shelter that provides adequate space for all who need it? Why do we lack a permanent day center that offers the full array of services needed by homeless people?

And there’s a question I need to ask myself. I received an email from a homeless advocate Sunday afternoon asking if I knew of special provisions for transportation between Grace and the overflow shelters. My response was simply, “I’m not in the loop on this.” If I had pursued it; if I had contacted Porchlight staff, government officials, other advocates, could I have helped prevent that death? Even if the death was completely unrelated to the cold weather, someone died at Grace–alone, uncomforted, on a cold night. That should never happen.

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Meredith Gould

On January 6 I posted this tweet, "Where it's freezing: Is your church warm & open to those needing shelter? What needs to be in place for that to happen? #mercy"

I was interested to see that of the four re-tweets, one was by an Episcopal diocese's youth ministry account, one by a doctor, and one by a disabilities rights activist. That's it!

My hope is that even if the tweet wasn't re-tweeted or "favorited," it was seen by people with the influence and authority to get permissions, insurance liability riders, security personnel, and the like in place in advance of these situations. Crisis has become normative.

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Vickie Houk
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