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Church outreach in the deep freeze

Posted: January 30 2019 at 06:08 PM
Author: Anne Marie Gerhardt


Several Churches across the Northern Illinois Conference opened their doors to the homeless and others seeking shelter from the extreme cold during the area's record-breaking temperatures.

Some churches offer a weekly place for PADS which provides hospitality, food and overnight emergency shelter to the homeless. As temperatures dipped to 20 below, Kingswood UMC in Buffalo Grove opened their doors early Tuesday evening for the PADS' guests and kept their doors open a little later Wednesday morning to allow extra time for them to get transportation to another safe warming center. First UMC Morris remained open all day Wednesday as a warming center for Grundy County PADS' guests in their community.

First UMC Oak Park will extend their welcome to anyone who needs shelter on Thursday (1/31) evening as they host PADS. The church said 'no one will be turned away.'

Holy Covenant in Chicago will remain open through 6 pm Thursday night (1/31) after serving as a warming center both Tuesday and Wednesday. They served 28 people in one day with the help of 10 volunteers. Even when the heat went out in the gallery, the church Trustees were right there to install a new thermostat and make a service call!

"In the depths of the coldest winter, our doors were open to warm our neighbors," wrote Pastor Kelli Beard on Facebook. "It was an incredible day of warmth and hospitality."


Volunteers at Holy Covenant help serve a warm meal to those who needed shelter from the cold. Church members donated several items including fruit, sandwiches, and dessert.

Waterman UMC kept their doors open Wednesday for anyone seeking a warm place. Pastor Paul Lee said they didn't have any visitors, which he says is good news that there wasn't a need. Even so, Lee said the church will remain open Thursday and they will have tea and something to eat for anyone who comes in. 

The Bethany Community Center, a new faith community in Itasca, is grateful to the many people in the community who donated food, transportation, and volunteers to help feed those who came to their temporary warming shelter on Wednesday. "The Itasca community is amazing," wrote Pastor Bob Butler. "Secular and non-secular organizations working together: the police, churches, social service agencies, restaurants, nonprofits, and even a few concerned individuals. Every person from every group sharing a unique talent to offer a little heaven here on earth."  Read more.

First UMC in Ottawa also opened up its building and offered a warm meal Wednesday after pastor Cheri Stewart discovered there was only one warming center open in the community. 

“It’s a blessing to live in a community where everybody is looking out for everybody,” Stewart told the local newspaper. Click to read more. If you know of someone who needs shelter, click here for a list of warming centers around the state by county.

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