Christian Ministries of Delaware County
Christian Ministries of Delaware County has roots going back all the way to 1945, when a group of pastors came together to help those in need while promoting unity among the many different Christian churches in their county. Today they have an operating budget of $200,000, one full time director, and eight-part time staff.
Their programs include a family shelter, emergency assistance, and a thrift store. They also distribute free school supplies, blankets, bed linens, formula, baby food and diapers to those in need. However, they are best known for their men’s shelter and food pantry. The food pantry operates four days a week and last year served more than 10,000 people. The shelter has been in operation for 25 years, and is the only low barrier shelter in the county. The men staying there don’t need to show ID and don’t need to enter into any sort of program. The only requirement is that they not be intoxicated or on drugs.
Their mission is to meet the short term needs of people while sharing the love of Christ through justice, mercy, and humility. Christian Ministries receives regular financial support from about a quarter of the churches in Delaware County. At least another quarter provide volunteers for the food pantry and men’s shelter, or donate needed items like diapers, toilet paper and laundry detergent.
They work hard to incorporate congregations from a diverse array of traditions and beliefs that includes Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Nazarenes, Evangelicals, and even a Unitarian Universalist church and a Jewish temple. While this wide net has at times created tension, for the most part the many congregations have worked well together.
One of the methods that Christian Ministries has long employed to promote this sense of connection and unity is inviting people from all of their supporting congregations to a different member church each year for both Lenten and Good Friday services. They often have as many as 300 people taking part in these special services, getting to experience how others worship and sharing their traditions with one another. While Christian Ministries does have bibles available to hand out, and their staff offer to pray with any clients who would like to do so, they do not have any religious requirements for their services. They offer bible study in both the men’s shelter and the family shelter, but as optional activities which some clients choose to take advantage of and others do not. All people are served regardless of religion.