“No room in the inn” the Biblical phrase remembered mostly at Christmas – it’s become an all to frequent and tragic condition of the growing homeless population through the nation. Here in Fort Collins we have not been spared that loss of house and home.
Here also there has been a creative response to the needs of those without a roof over their heads on the part of the religious community – an effort worthy of note. It’s called Faith Family Hospitality. Since the beginning of this year nine host congregations have on a weekly rotating basis provided overnight accommodations and meals for as many as four homeless families, with the support of eight other faith communities.
This pattern has been based on a national model implemented in 171 locations around the nation for over twenty years. Locally guests have been referred thought the Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope, which also provides day services. The United Way of Larimer County has served as fiscal agent, with the Fort Collins Area Interfaith Council having taken FFH as a project in order to provide counsel and support.
Currently FFH is serving four parents and fourteen children thanks to all the volunteers at the following host sites, including: Christ United Methodist Church, Evangelical Covenant Church, First United Methodist Church, Foothills Unitarian,Church, Heart of the Rockies Christian Church, Peak Community Church, Heart of the Rockies Christian Church, St Luke’s Episcopal Church, Summitview Community Church. In addition support faith communities include: American Baptist Church, Christ our Hope Anglican Church, Congregation Har Shalom, First Presbyterian Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church.
Soon to join this network are Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church as a host and Muslims Against Hunger as a support faith group. Sue Ferguson, Chair of the Steering Committee which oversees the FHH program, continues to welcome other participating faith groups via firstname.lastname@example.org
Clearly, in relating directly to homeless persons in compassionate and respectful ways, FFH also represents an historic interfaith cooperation in Fort Collins, leading as well to deepening relationships within each of the participating faith communities. Not least in importance is the new experience with their own property, which instead of having rooms which stand empty during the week, has become a home for those otherwise sleeping in their cars or on the street.
A sanctifying space indeed, as this has become “room in the inn” year round.