April 15, 2018/Church in the Yard
By Bill Glenn
Church in the Yard
Because of my love for cooking and hopes to somehow use that love to serve others, a friend told me about a couple of sisters who serve at a church here in Nashville, the Church of the Holy Trinity. I was given the opportunity to meet these remarkable ladies who happen to be from Nashville and lifelong members of the church. Our being from Nashville as well inspired a very memorable conversation.
We were told that their church has a ministry called, “Church in the Yard”, that prepares a meal and has a church service for the hungry and the homeless most Sunday afternoons out in the churchyard, weather permitting. They share their opportunity to serve with other local churches alternating Sundays. We were invited to come and participate at the gathering.
I did so this past Sunday. It was a beautiful, but a very cool day in April, so they had the gathering inside the Parrish Hall. If you have never seen the Church of the Holy Trinity, it is a must see, especially if you are into old historic buildings. It is of the Gothic Revival style of architecture. The construction started in 1852 and was finally completed in 1888 and was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The congregation was formed in 1849 as a mission of the nearby Christ Episcopal Church and attained Parrish status in 1851 and had grown to around fifty members by the beginning of the American Civil War. It was occupied by Union Troops and was significantly damaged during the war. The church was then repaired, services continued and a new mission was formed on Wharf Avenue that served the African-American community of Nashville. At a later time, the two missions merged and to this date, the church continues to serve the Nashville community to include Faculty and Students of Fisk University, other educational institutions and the hungry and homeless people of Nashville.
At one time, a small group of people where feeding the poor in the streets of Nashville and the Police told them that doing so in the streets was not allowed. In looking for a place to continue to serve, they approached the rector of the Holy Trinity asking if they could feed the poor on the church property. They then asked the church to provide a worship service prior to serving the meal. These efforts have grown into a very significant ministry and many other people and groups have joined both in service and financial support. In 2015 alone, some 11,300 meals were served. “Most important is the reality that the Church in the Yard facilitates worship and spiritual nourishment for the homeless in the community. Our first priority is to come together to worship God and we do that every Sunday. Meals are served following the service. Also, we counsel and mentor those in need and the needs are many. Nobody is turned away and when we are presented with a problem, we do everything that we can to help those in need. A “problem” is an opportunity to love and model love, and that opportunity is our Mission. Love does heal. We have seen many miraculous healings and lives have been changed.” – an excerpt from a church article. Also, the church will arrange and finance transportation for those needing to go to job interviews, doctor appointments and to help those returning home, often out of the state. Other provisions include filling medical prescriptions and working with housing agencies in order to help find temporary housing.
My experience there was a tremendous blessing upon me. I met the very loving serving members of the ministry and many of the folks that came to take advantage of the gathering. As I sit here writing this post, I find my eyes clouded by tears because I at one time found myself homeless as well and as reality can have its way with us all, could be again tomorrow. The unfortunate misconception that all homeless people are lazy bums that want to live in the streets and do not want to work is a travesty. Every human being and all are created by God and deserve to be treated with kindness and dignity. We are all broken, some more than others.
My personal experience is that the only reason that I have had a meal today, warm walls around me, a few people who truly love me is because of the love of Christ, a few divine appointments and the few that love me and have walked with me along the way.
Those who are served by the Church of the Holy Trinity are some who are also being helped by the Nashville Rescue Mission and other area organizations providing relief to the needy and homeless. If you or anyone that you know to include groups that may want to serve in this ministry or make a financial gift, please feel free to contact: Fr. Bill Dennler, Rector at (615) 256-6359 and the church address is 615 Sixth Ave. South, Nashville, Tennessee 37203