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Spiritual Support Group & Lunch - 10:30 am every Tuesday
Support Center - 9:00 am - 4:00 pm every Monday - Friday
Book Club - 8:30 am every Tuesday
Clothing Room - 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm every Wednesday & Thursday
Latino Ministry Homeless Breakfast - 8:30 am - 10:00 am every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month. Click here for more info.
Bethel’s Homeless Ministries share the love of Christ with our poor and homeless neighbors by creating a community that is supporting, loving, and respectful.
It all started with Eric. On a bitter, winter night in 2009, Eric Manley, one of Madison's homeless, laid down on the steps of Bethel Lutheran Church and died. Following Eric's tragic death, close friend, Mark Wilson, and Bethel staff member, Pastor Laura Sutherland, came together to provide a funeral for Eric and to make a positive change in Madison's homeless community. What began in 2009 as a once-a-week homeless support group has now evolved into a homeless support service center open five days a week.
Homeless Ministry Support Services are overseen by Staff Coordinator Conner Wild, volunteer director Mark Wilson, and several other volunteers from Bethel and the community. Our program revolves around one simple principle: respect. We take the time to develop close relationships with our homeless neighbors so that we are better able to provide support and to assist at risk individuals in finding the necessary services and resources to improve their lives. Aside from support group, our program also offers a computer lab, a book club, telephone access, clothing, information, games, a small library, bathrooms, hygiene products, hot coffee, conversation, and a safe space to escape the streets. We also organize a biannual trip for those homeless interested in attending, one being a picnic at Devil's Lake, the other being a three day retreat to Bethel Horizons. In addition, our staff and volunteers are willing to help in any way possible including resume writing, job applications, housing applications, medical and legal referrals, acquiring SSI/Disability/Veterans' benefits, obtaining IDs, and much more. All are welcome regardless of religious affiliation.
Spiritual Support Group
The Spiritual Support Group meets each Tuesday at 10:30 am in the Pentecost room. A large group gathers to share their stories in a unique support system and time of fellowship. Pastor Alison closes the group time with a prayer for all and then everyone enjoys lunch together. On the first Tuesday of the month, we celebrate the month’s birthdays with cake!
On Tuesday mornings, a diverse group of community members, both those from as well as not from the homeless community, come together to talk literature...or just to listen with a warm cup of coffee. Following the completion of the current book, we watch the film version, if available, or a movie with related themes or content. On several occasions, best selling authors have been with us in person or connected with the group over SKYPE.We welcome all and participation in reading is encouraged although not mandatory. Books are provided by Bethel and caring members of the community. If interested in donating the next read, please contact us!
Every year, we enjoy a three day outing to Bethel Horizons. We have enjoyed crafting pottery at Art Ventures, hiking around the property, scaling the ropes course, stargazing, wonderful meals, and a service of communion! It is a wonderful time to get out of the city and enjoy nature and some time with God and one another.
We also take an annual trip to Devil’s Lake State Park for a picnic where we swim, hike, play chess, cribbage, and the bean bag toss. Founder Mark Wilson fires up a large grill and serves up delicious brats and hamburgers alongside potato salad, cole slaw, chips, veggies, lemonade and chocolate cookies.
HOW EVERYONE CAN GET INVOLVED
Donate your time. Respect is key in this community and can often be gained in one conversation. Stop by during the week to say hello and enjoy the community. We are also always in need of help with various tasks, so please contact us if you are interested in helping but are not sure how. Some tasks we frequently need help with include but are not limited to: funding, donating clothing, baking cakes for our monthly birthday celebrations, donating supplies, preparing food for Tuesday Support Group, purchasing books for Book Club, serving meals, organizing Clothing Room, donating 2-ride bus passes, offering specialized professional services, and much more.
Pray for the community here at Bethel, all who are homeless in Madison, and those who are homeless throughout the world.
Monetary support is always appreciated in funding Tuesday lunches, the annual Horizon retreat, and Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. We also lend support with bus passes, eye glasses, medical care, and books for our book club.
Homeless Ministry business cards are available from Pastor Alison and the volunteers with information about our support services. Keep a few with you and start a conversation with someone you meet who is struggling with housing and work. Invite them into the Bethel family.
National Coalition for the Homeless - General information regarding homelessness in the US.
Street Pulse Documentary - Documentary film by local filmmakers Marc Kornblatt, Randy Lee, and Melanie Killingsworth which follows the daily lives of Madison's homeless.
Street Pulse Newspaper - Local, volunteer-run newspaper the employs homeless and at risk individuals as vendors, engage homeless issues, and keep the public informed.
City of Madison Community Development Block Grant - Information on what the city is doing to address poverty-related issues.
City of Madison Homeless - Data and reports about homelessness in Madison and Dane County. (Follow to the bottom of the page under the subsection titled "Homeless".)