Rev. Kevin Stewart has been thinking for the last several months about what is missing from the conversation about how to serve the city’s homeless population, and he realized the answer was simple and in front of him the whole time.
“Prayer. As a man of faith who feels called to this mission, the one thing I hadn’t considered was the power of prayer,” he said. “We will pray at the corner of 7th and Main every Monday night until a viable shelter solution for all who are in need is found.”
From 4 to 6:30 p.m. every Monday starting June 15, individuals can visit the St. Luke’s Episcopal sanctuary for personal time of reflection and prayer. Then, Stewart, First Baptist Pastor Holly Anderson Anderle and others will lead a public prayer service at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s clear that our community desperately needs a place capable of extending shelter to anyone who seeks it, regardless of their issues,” Anderle said. “By opening ourselves up to God’s hope, we are able to open our eyes and hearts to recognize that everyone needs the unconditional love and care that God extends to all of us.”
Stewart said he was spurred to action based mostly on the inaction of community leaders after the Hospitality Center came close to ending overnight shelter this winter because of a lack of volunteers. Donations – cash, clothing, food and others – poured in, and leaders from the Continuum of Care got involved by organizing community conversations about how to best help HC participants who can’t find help at one of the area’s other shelters.
“It became clear to me that we couldn’t wait any longer to do this one thing while we continue to work on other things,” Stewart added. “Winter is coming, and the Hospitality Center is not equipped from nearly every angle to operate as an overnight emergency shelter. We can’t do it.”
But he can pray, he said, and he’s inviting everyone to join in to witness the power of prayer. The vigils are a partnership between the HC, St. Luke’s and First Baptist Church in Racine.
“The Hospitality Center, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and First Baptist Church now call for a shelter solution for all who are in need in Racine and announce a call to action. Our first action is to pray,” Stewart said in an email. “We invite people of faith and of all faith traditions to gather to pray for the Spirit of the Living God to mightily move so there is safety and shelter for all who are in need.”