Haywood Street UMC has been a member of the PHW Collaborative since 2018. They have always been an anchor of support in their community through ministering with the unsheltered population of Asheville, serving fresh meals to all, and hosting a respite center for illness recovery.
Pastor Brian Combs shared with us how they have refocused due to COVID-19: “In early March, the staff of Haywood Street United Methodist Church huddled to discern our response to the Covid-19 lockdown. We agreed on two primary ministries: considering the food insecurity of many unhoused congregants and the likely coming desperation for area citizens who’d been laid off, we would add a third offering and pivot our sit-down Welcome Table banquet (in which local restaurants donate food for sit-down meals with our unhoused siblings) to walk-through hot meals served outside.
Done from a distance, we’re averaging 1500 meals weekly. Even more concerning, knowing shelter in place is impossible if you don’t have shelter, we reorganized our Respite Center, an 8-bed facility on campus for adults post-hospitalization, to house nine of the most medically compromised of our unhoused siblings trying to survive on the streets with already compromised immunities.
After quarantining at a nearby hotel and testing, we’re settling into life together indefinitely. What remains uncertain is how to respond to the most devastating part of COVID. After the infections and deaths, what appears far more threatening is the forced estrangement. For a ministry focused on intimate relationship, the virus is thwarting our instinctual movement towards one another, preying on our desire for proximity, and leaving many of us shuttered in isolation.”
We are grateful to Haywood Street for opening their arms to the community now and always. To learn more about their ministry, visit http://haywoodstreet.org/.
We encourage you to share with us what your faith community is doing right now by emailing information and photos to Lindsay Barth, PHW Communications Associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org.