Since St. Paul’s United Methodist Church cannot legally become a homeless shelter, parishioners will instead hold a vigil to provide shelter for the homeless.

NAPOLEON, OH – United Methodist Church of StPastor Jennifer Miller has been working at the church for over a year and a half. Her day job is a housing specialist working with the Section 8 voucher program in North West Consortium of Housing Authorities. Thanks to this, she learned a terrible fact about her district.

“The fact that Henry County has never had a homeless shelter at all is just sad,” Miller said.

Along with the aggravation of the housing crisis and Henry County Health DepartmentA study that found the area had a 300-unit low-income housing shortage, she knew the church had to act.

But they can’t do too much without volunteers, and parishioners like Pam Faure agree the program needs fixing from the church.

“We have to find a way to do this because I know there are people in the city and the area who are struggling,” said Fauver, the church’s volunteer coordinator. “We’re all one event away from being homeless.”

Around the start of the pandemic, Miller learned firsthand how severe the housing crisis was in Henry County. According to her, she moved into a nice apartment and everything looked great. But then she found out that the black mold in her apartment was causing serious health problems.

“I lost pretty much everything I had,” Miller said. “I had to sleep in my car for a couple of nights. I slept in a hotel, and at the time I’m a housing specialist and a pastor. It’s the beginning of the pandemic and I can’t find a house.”

There is a branch of the Salvation Army in St. Paul, so the clothing store already has bedding and sleeping bags. But Bedding donations of all kinds are appreciated.

The purpose of the church is to accommodate at least 15 people for the night. But when families come, Miller said they can accommodate more.

She said the city is very happy with the church’s decision to help those who are homeless. But the church must stay within the law, so St. Paul’s Church cannot legally become a homeless shelter.

However, the church can offer shelter for the night, accepting a Warming prayer vigil. The chapel will be open for the service of faith and the doors will be open to help those who have nowhere to go, especially on cold nights.

“We need breakfast items because we plan to offer them breakfast before they leave. Sheets, blankets, pillows, blankets, sleeping bags, whatever we can get from people,” Miller said.

They are also asking for at least five volunteers per day. While no one needs to volunteer every day, the hope is that enough people will fill the rosters for the shifts to run the vigil, which is expected to last at least five months.

“It may seem like a tall order, but I think it will go faster than they expect,” Fauver said.

Training volunteers, explaining shifts and how the shift will be done, everything will be explained on October 23 in the Cathedral of St. Those interested can sign up via by clicking here. For more information about Warming prayer vigil and how to help Click here.

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