By Jessica Brodie
SIMPSONVILLE—Another homeless family will soon be able to move into a “bridge home” through the generosity of one United Methodist congregation.
Thanks to a Christmas Miracle Mission at their church, Advent United Methodist Church, Simpsonville, closed July 24 on a second transitional bridge home, purchased with Homes of Hope and in partnership with GAIHN, the Greenville Area Interfaith Hospitality Network. The bridge home is designed to be a respite for homeless families as they transition between emergency shelters and a permanent home.
Families stay in the home up to 18 months while they strive to get their living situation under control, including seeking employment and saving up enough money to rent or buy a long-term home of their own.
Advent raised a surprise $265,000 in December through their Christmas Miracle Mission offering, a first-time initiative that challenged the church to cut their Christmas spending in half, then give the other half to the offering. The huge sum exceeded their pastor’s expectations and was 15 times more than the church had contributed in the previous year’s Christmas offering; now the congregation is embracing their new vision of helping homeless families one house at a time.
“Advent is very mission-minded anyway, but this is one more thing on a large scale that they can be proud of; they are really making an impact in the community,” said Advent’s pastor, the Rev. Michael Turner, who said he is humbled and “appropriately proud” of the way his church has stepped up to love their neighbor. The day he announced the purchase, all three services met the announcement with church-wide applause. “It’s not just a ‘one and done’ kind of thing but an ongoing thing.”
The first bridge home, a four-bedroom, 1,400-square-foot house, is helping a family of seven: a mother, father and their five children, ages 9 months to 9 years, who moved in May 8. Turner said the new home is, by coincidence, in the same neighborhood as the other home and within walking distance of the church. This new home is bigger and a bit nicer than the first home, he said, and a team will soon begin refurbishing the home in preparation for the family that will move in.
Turner said the Christmas Miracle Mission team is also looking at a sizable piece of property they hope to buy with remaining funds from the offering. They hope to build several bridge houses on that property, and he said Homes of Hope might build regular non-bridge affordable homes on-site, as well, which Turner said could bring much stability and positive mentoring to the neighborhood.
“How great if we had a family at Advent, whose children graduated and gone to college, who could even move into the neighborhood,” Turner said. “We are hopeful God will provide.”
For more information about Advent’s homeless ministry and their Christmas Miracle Mission, email Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Advent at 864-288-8217 or 2258 Woodruff Road, Simpsonville, SC 29681.