About this feature

In this monthly feature, I want to share the good news stories of grace and hope and life that God continues to offer and provide as you, our alums, are seeking to be faithful in your call. If you have a story you would be willing to share, please contact me at lrussell@austinseminary.edu.

Rev. Lana Russell

Director of Alumni/ae and Church Relations

Ministry Under the Bridge

Before the arrival of Rev. Lynn Hargrove (MDiv '01), the people who worship at St. Giles Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas, had been looking for new ministry opportunities. Together with their new pastor, they began to dream. They were asking the question, "What is our call to the neighborhood in which we live?" One day, in an email exchange, a member posed the possibility of opening the doors of the church to the homeless when it gets cold. Cold in Houston?

St. Giles is located less than one mile from a bridge at Highway 290, where people who do not have a place to live huddle together at night to share resources and try to sleep. On a somewhat regular basis, they had been seen at St. Giles' food pantry but a relationship had not developed.

Three days after that email was sent, the temperatures in Houston plummeted into the 20s and members from St. Giles swung into action. They gathered blankets, pillows and mattresses from their homes. They made their way to the bridge at Hwy. 290 and offered an invitation for a warm place to sleep to those who were facing frigid temperatures overnight. St. Giles opened its doors to men, women and children who were hoping to stay warm and safe.

Christine Lockridge (pictured on the right) is now a regular volunteer at the St. Giles food pantry and Michael Eisworth (pictured on the left) is a new recruit and seen regularly at worship. Their lives are being transformed by the grace of God. In fact, God's life changing spirit is all around them.

Hargrove states, "It has been transformational for this congregation to be in a relationship with people who live under bridges, to sit down and have conversations, to share a meal." Now with nicer weather, the church is moving forward in applying for a grant that would enable them to build shower and laundry facilities, much needed resources for their new friends who live under the bridge. God has provided a new vision for ministry at St. Giles and together they are continuing to discern their future. What Good News!