Churches Which Support Homeless Programs

©Copyright 2000 Jean Kim. All Rights Reserved 


Alameda Korean Presbyterian Church, PC(USA), Alameda, CA
2001 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 758-5220; (510) 523-8634 Fax

Contact: Rev. Myong Bae Choi, Pastor

Kwisook Choi, Director of Good Samaritan Feeding Program

Alameda Korean Presbyterian Church was established in 1983 for Korean-speaking immigrants who reside in the Alameda and Oakland area in California. Currently the church has 150 communicant members, but 200 people worship on Sundays. The church offers four different worship services according to ages and languages: Korean-Speaking Adults, English-Speaking Adults, Youth and Children. Seasonally the whole congregation worships together bilingually. The church is housed at another generous Presbyterian church of the PC(USA) and shares its sanctuary.

Alameda Korean Presbyterian Church does more than supporting programs in the community. The congregation rolls up its sleeves and is doing something for homeless people.

Alameda Korean Presbyterian Church serves its community in partnership with many local social service agencies, such as the Alameda County Housing Authority, the Department of Education, Police Precincts, the Red Cross, hospitals, nursing homes, Asian Immigrant Womenís Advocates, the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, the Asian Law Caucus, Asian Health Services, and the Korean Community Center of East Bay.

The churchís major services for the wider Oakland community are as follows:

Good Samaritans of East Bay: One day in 1995, after a Bible study class on the story of the Good Samaritan, participants desired to put into action what they had learned. They started a hot meal program which feeds 120 homeless people every Thursday evening (since March 1995) at the Peniel Mission in downtown Oakland. Alameda Korean Presbyterian and other church members provide grocery items, and cook and serve meals there. The service team is made up of a dozen local church members who wanted to be useful for the needy in their community. Before serving the physical meal, spiritual nurturing is provided by inviting homeless people to a worship service with prayer and singing. Local pastors take turns leading the worship services.

This program was so widely known that the City of Oaklandís Hunger Relief Program approached the church to provide a 1997 Thanksgiving dinner for 2,000 homeless people in Oakland and the church said "yes." The church mobilized the entire Korean community in the Bay area, and managed to offer a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for 2,000 homeless people at the Scottish Rite Temple in Oakland. More than 80 Korean-American volunteers and 50 other ethnic volunteers, including African-Americans, came to serve the dinner. The dinner was funded by contributions from the local Korean-American community. Clothing was donated by local Korean laundry shops; sanitary kits and blankets were provided by the City of Oakland.

This church offers the community not just feeding, but a mission of reconciliation and peacemaking among different ethnic groups, some of whom feel neglected by the Korean community since it has been advancing economically faster than some other minority groups.

The act of serving also acts as a bridge between local Christians and people in need. The service symbolizes standing in solidarity with the poor.

This project has also provided an internship site for seminarians and work-study credit programs for high school students. This program is a recipient of grants from San Francisco Presbytery and the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

Childrenís Choir: Alameda Korean Presbyterian Church recently began a childrenís chorus. It provides a place for children to experience Godís love and joy, and to develop their musical talents. Alameda Korean Presbyterian church hopes and prays that the childrenís choir reaches out through singing to neighborhood children who are tempted by many harmful secular attractions.

NOTE: Alameda Korean Presbyterian Church appeared to be unlike some other Korean immigrant churches in the United States, which are usually isolated from the community, mainly focusing on the survival and growth of their own church and the personal salvation and blessings of its members.


Bel Air Presbyterian Church, PC(USA), Los Angeles, CA
16221 Mulholland Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90049
(818) 788-4200; (818) 788-2243 Fax

Contact: Dr. Michael Wenning, Senior Pastor

Mary Erickson, Director of Urban Ministry

Here is a wonderful model of a suburban church. Bel Air Presbyterian Church sits on a hill in a wealthy suburban neighborhood in Los Angeles. Former President Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan and other celebrities are members of this church. It is 50+ years old, has 2,000 members and holds three worship services on Sunday.

When I first visited this church, the size and construction of the church (which looked like a castle) shocked me. A second shock came when I learned about its deep commitment and involvement with urban issues despite its remote distance from the actual scene of inner-city poverty.

This church has two staff for urban ministry. Bel Air Presbyterian Church is actively and directly involved in outreach to needy communities by sending out volunteers as liaisons. The church also sends financial help to 27 city ministries and 16 Bel Air programs.

The 1998 total budget was $3,049,042 and $565,897 for mission, of which $125,000 was for urban mission.

One of Bel Airís many impressive programs is the New Covenant Singers Outreach Choir. The choir reaches out into the city, serving those who are not ordinarily privileged to hear Godís love through the joy of music. They are musicians committed to sharing their gifts. They are servants committed to sharing Godís gifts. They are Christian evangelists taking Godís word to the unchurched in a musical presentation that delivers the exciting Good News of Jesus Christ to all. They are an outreach choir.

I was told that even President Reagan was involved in helping a needy family as part of his church participation.

Mary Erickson, the Director of Urban Ministry writes that their "community outreach is often inconvenient, outside of our own geography, sometimes unpleasant, and at times costly. We can encounter rudeness, ignorance, poverty, stench, frustration, shock, corruption, abandonment, crime, illness, and even death. We find our own many needs interfere with Godís desire that we be there unconditionally for those God has given to our care. Often we prefer not to be part of the community of outsiders. However, there is joy hidden in their pain and when we share the pain we also share the joy. The question, therefore, is not should I care for at-risk-kids, unwed mothers, the incarcerated, foster children, the homeless, people with AIDS, shut-ins, children with life-threatening illnesses, the illiterate and the many others who are somehow broken. No, the question is how can I develop and nurture a giving heart? (Matt. 9:36-38)."

Isnít this church a good model for our many suburban churches? Bel Air Presbyterian Church breaks the stereotypical image of a suburban church that cannot do much for the inner-city poor because of the distance or because they donít care.



First and Calvary Presbyterian Church, PC(USA), Springfield, MO
820 Cherry St., Springfield, MO 65806
(417) 862-5068; (417) 862-9948 Fax

Contact: Rev. Gary Stratman e-mail:

Terri Blackmon, Mission Committee Chair e-mail:

The First and Calvary Mission Statement is impressive: "We are called to be compassionate witnesses to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We gather for worship to be prepared to share our faith, and care for those in need inside and outside our walls. Here people of all ages are encouraged to grow in their understanding of Godís word through study, to discover their spiritual gifts, and to offer those gifts in active ministry to the glory of God."

First and Calvary is heavily involved with Habitat for Humanity, building its fourth house this spring. It helped the Springfield Regional Girls Shelter by collecting offerings, and providing volunteer services, worship services, and childcare training.

When I visited the church, its Homeless Task Force was meeting to figure out what more First and Calvary can do to help homeless people.

Each Presbyterian church needs to have a Homeless Task Force, needs to keep learning about the reality of homelessness in its own local area, and needs to motivate its congregation to do something to end homelessness.


First Presbyterian Church, PC(USA), Spokane, WA
28616 N. Cottonwood Rd., Chattaroy, WA. 99003
(509) 238-6448

Contact: Rev. Dr. Woody Garvin, Senior Pastor...(509) 747-1058

Rev. Kevin Finch, Associate Pastor for Mission

Nancy Cabe: Chair of Mission Allocations

First Presbyterian Church, PC(USA), in Spokane was originally established in the frontier village of Spokane Falls in 1883. Located in a large, stone edifice in downtown Spokane, with a current membership of 2,020, First Church has been mission-oriented from the start.

The longest-running mission project of the church is the Barton School, which was established in 1969. This literacy program meets three days a week in the church and has a volunteer staff that provides individualized one-on-one instruction to help adult students learn English as a second language, GED preparation, citizenship lessons, and other survival skills for daily living.

As a large growing downtown church, First Presbyterian has felt led by God to provide for and to participate in outreach ministries to urban poor, hungry and homeless people in the church neighborhood.

Christ Clinic is located in a low-income neighborhood and provides ongoing family medical care to people who have no health insurance. Christ Clinic is housed at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Spokane. First Presbyterian members were instrumental in starting this ministry and continue to serve on the Board. Other members work there as paid staff also.

Christ Kitchen: Through the production and sale of various dried food products, this Christ-centered ministry teaches low-income women how to work and become employable, enabling them eventually to support themselves and their families without relying upon government programs or destructive relationships. A member of First Presbyterian Church who was involved in Christ Clinic had a vision to start Christ Kitchen. It eventually evolved into Bible study, and women receiving job skill training led by First Presbyterian members. Presbyterian Women of First Presbyterian gave a donation to start this program. This program received funds from a PC(USA) Self-Development of People grant.

Crisis Pregnancy Center: sometimes called "life services," which is a Christ-centered program that provides practical assistance at no charge to those who face a crisis pregnancy. First Presbyterian supports the Center financially, and a member of First Presbyterian is a volunteer leader for a post-abortion support group.

Crosswalk is a multi-purpose center for homeless and troubled youth, striving to help young people avoid or leave the streets by reuniting families, supplying survival necessities, finding safe homes, teaching self-sufficiency, and offering hope and support from trusted, caring adults. First Presbyterian assists with the meal program.

En Christo is a Whitworth College-based, student-operated food outreach ministry to downtown hotel residents. This program not only provides physical food, but also spiritual food. First Presbyterian Church delivers meals when the college is not in session.

Interfaith Hospitality Network: The local religious community has united, responding to the growing need for shelter, meals, and assistance to homeless families. In partnership with another Presbyterian church that provides overnight lodging in their church on an 8-week rotation, First Presbyterian assists with breakfast and dinner preparation. Members of First Presbyterian also stay overnight with the guests for security and safety.

Martin Luther King Family Outreach Center: First Presbyterian helped establish this center in 1970, in order to provide positive social and educational development for children and their families in a low-income neighborhood. First Presbyterian members serve on the Board.

Mission Community Outreach Center: First Presbyterian provides financial and volunteer assistance to low-income families with tutoring/mentoring programs, donations of shoes and clothing, household furnishings, eye glasses, hearing aids, and school supplies.

Our Place: First Presbyterian offers financial support, which helps provide food, clothing, utility assistance as well as other survival and relief services to the poor, minority, and transient population of a needy neighborhood.

Shalom Ministries: First Presbyterian sends many volunteers to cook and serve at Shalom Ministries, which is vital outreach ministry to the Spokane downtown community. It includes a nutritional meal program, parish nursing, counseling, GED and adult education, and employment training for low-income downtown residents and homeless people. A First Presbyterian member serves as Director of this program.

Habitat for Humanity: First Presbyterian is heavily involved with building homes for the poor. The church has been saving "seed money" to sponsor a future Habitat House.

Alberta Project: This old, dilapidated building is located only a few blocks from the First Presbyterian Church. This building had previously been the central hub of drug trafficking and prostitution in downtown Spokane. This building has been purchased by City Gate Ministries, which is a Christian faith-based ministry that reclaims, rebuilds, restores the lost and broken lives of homeless teens and adults in downtown Spokane. In addition to the City Gate Ministries on the premises, Cup of Cool Water, also a Christian faith-based ministry for homeless youth, will occupy one wing of the building. It is their hope to eventually establish a school for the street kids.

First Presbyterian is involved in remodeling the building, transforming and converting apartments into a haven for Christís Church in the City. First Presbyterian delivers sandwiches for homeless people coming to the City Gate. A First Presbyterian member serves on the Board of Cup of Cool Water. Members of First Presbyterian also walk the streets at night reaching out to street kids.

"Homelessness is of crisis proportions in our country, and First Presbyterian Church of Spokane is grateful to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for recognizing the need for Presbyterians to do something to make a difference. The Rev. Jean Kim, an employee of National Ministries, preached to our congregation and inspired us to roll up our sleeves!" (Chair of Mission Allocations, First Presbyterian Church, Spokane)


Pasadena Presbyterian Church, PC(USA), St. Petersburg, FL
100 Pasadena Ave. N, St. Petersburg, FL 33710
(727) 345-0148; (727) 347-6836 Fax

Contact: Rev. O. Rhett Talbert, Jr. e-mail: Praising

Rev. Terry Collier

Pasadena Presbyterian Church is a medium-size congregation (membership of 200+ families) located in St. Petersburg, Florida. This church has enthusiastically embraced Christís calling, and supports a variety of missions and ministries. The variety of ministries connected with Pasadena Presbyterian Church allows members a wide choice of volunteer opportunities to closely fit their interests, gifts, resources and talents.

These are the local ministries that Pasadena Presbyterian Church supports:

Tampa Bay Harvest, which collects surplus food and distributes it to local charities.

St. Petersburg Free Clinic, which offers free health care for the poor.

Somebody Cares Tampa Bay, which provides a network for local ministries and puts on special events.

Habitat for Humanity, for which Pasadena Presbyterian Church is currently raising funds to build a Habitat house in St. Petersburg.



Radcliffe Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Atlanta, GA
286 Hamilton E. Holmes Dr. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

Contact: Rev. Dr. Lloyd Green, Jr., Pastor

Bettie J. Durrah, PO Box 92252, Atlanta, GA. 30314

(404) 658-9180; (404) 577-0131 Fax

Radcliffe Presbyterian Church is an African-American Church in Atlanta which is 102 years old and has 290 members.

Garage Apartment: For years, a garage apartment has occupied space on the churchís property. For a number of years, this space has been home to individuals and families who were without a home of their own. The guests stayed for an indeterminate period of time during their crisis. Unfortunately, the garage apartment is no longer available due to the condition of the facility.

Southwest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center (SWEEAC): This 8-church organization (including Radcliffe and Church of the Master Presbyterian Churches) essentially takes its mission from the Scripture to "feed the hungry and clothe the naked."

Not only are housed families or individuals having a hard time during the month served, but also homeless individuals and families. The Center is located at St. Mark AME Church, 3605 Campbellton Road SW, Atlanta, GA. This center has been operational since 1988. Ready-to-eat food items are made available to homeless people as well as clothing. Organizations within the church provide monthly financial support. Food is collected twice annually from the congregation. The Executive Director is a member of Radcliffe.

Habitat for Humanity (14 Church Coalition): Since 1993, Radcliffe has participated in the coalition by providing financial support, volunteers and furnishings for completed homes. Since joining the coalition, the Radcliffe family has completed six homes and provided follow-up liaison support to homeowners.

My Sisterís House: Under the auspices of its Evangelism and New Member Assimilation Committee, Radcliffe Presbyterian Church leads the Childrenís Chapel the fourth Friday of each month at My Sisterís House, which is located at 921 Howell Mill Rd. in Atlanta. This is a facility for mothers and children sponsored by the Atlanta Union Mission (the primary outreach organization for the homeless in Atlanta).

Members of the Committee use a variety of media--songs, prayers, Bible-based videos and arts and crafts to bring a message to youngsters aged 3-15. Each month, there are approximately 15 youngsters who are encouraged to share their talents and often lead songs and discussions of the lesson for the evening. This outreach ministry began in April of 1999, following a required orientation for volunteers.


St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, PC(USA), Tucker, GA
4882 La Vista Rd., Tucker, GA. 30085-0980
(770) 938-2833; (770) 938-6254 Fax

Contact: Rev. Stephen R. Montgomery e-mail:

Mary Evans (770) 493-9489

Walt Bryde, Mission Director (404) 240-0080

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church is a large church with a membership of more than 600. This church is a mile away from where homeless people hang out. St. Andrews Presbyterian Church helped start The Initiative for Affordable Housing Program (Refer to Model Programs) and continues to support the program to refurbish and resettle people in low-income housing.

The church also created a home team (mentor team) to help people in the Initiative Program rebuild their lives, economically.

A Day Care program is in process, and will welcome poor children also.

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