As record cold temperatures swept across Georgia, North Georgia United Methodist churches made good on the promise of "open hearts, open minds and open doors."
Martha Brown UMC in East Atlanta Village opened its doors for three nights as a Temporary Freeze Shelter. Jan. 5, 6, and 7 from 7 pm-7 am homeless in the community and those needing a warm place for the night were provided dinner and breakfast and a night's rest.
Mt. Bethel UMC in Marietta served as an emergency shelter, offering warmth to 216 homeless individuals Tuesday and 290 Wednesday night. Buses from Canton UMC, Mt. Zion UMC, Stockbridge UMC, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, and Seven Bridges to Recovery along with Mt Bethel's were used to pick up those who needed a ride to the Cobb County church -- from nearby locations all the way to downtown Atlanta.
Athens First UMC served as an overflow shelter once traditional homeless shelters were at capacity. They offered place for those seeking refuge from the cold at its building on North Lumpkin St.
Druid Hills UMC served as a "warming station" for the early evening hours Jan 5 and 6 in a cooperative effort with other churches and non-profits in its community. There were several hours between the closing of a day-time shelter and the opening of an overnight shelter, so Druid HIlls opened its doors and provided hospitality and coffee and hot chocolate.
St. James UMC Atlanta reached out to its community by offering open hours at its gym as a warm place for families to get some exercise and have fun. The church is charging a small fee to go toward purchasing supplies to be delivered to a women's and children's shelter Tuesday evening.
In addition to responding quickly in extreme circumstances, these and other United Methodist churches sustain homeless and housing ministries year-round by giving gifts and time to North Georgia Housing and Homeless Council, Action Ministries, and other agencies.
Share with us more ways North Georgia UMCs are providing warmth in this record cold by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or posting in the comments below.
(Photo courtesy of Mt Bethel UMC)