Trinity serves homeless with impromptu warming shelter during icy blast

By Jessica Brodie

DARLINGTON—South Carolina was hit with an unusual blast of winter weather last month, but that didn’t stop United Methodist churches from doing their part to “be Jesus” to their community. One church in particular stepped up in a bold new way.

Last summer, Trinity UMC, Darlington, began to collaborate with leaders in the Darlington community about how they might be able to serve the homeless population. Trinity has a youth building that had been underused for the past couple of year, so the church decided to open up the youth building as a shower center for homeless and others who may have housing but no water in their home.

With this winter’s severely cold weather, Trinity’s United Methodist Men began discussing how to use the youth building as a warming shelter.

Trinity senior pastor the Rev. Chris Lollis said that it all came together neatly the first week of January, when the severe weather prompted the people of Trinity to rally together and secure cots, food, blankets, hot beverages and more.

“It was a beautiful sight to see how it all came together,” Lollis said. “As the word got out of our intention to open the building, the community of Darlington rallied as well and brought items. People volunteered to staff the shelter.”

They were able to open each day beginning Wednesday, Jan. 3, from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. through Monday morning, Jan. 8.

As a result of this effort, Trinity is in the process of making this a full-time ministry when extreme cold comes to the Darlington area.

“We know that this doesn't happen very often in the Pee Dee of South Carolina, but we also know that we have the tropical weather threat and may have opportunities to open our facilities during those times, as well,” Lollis said.

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