On a cold early winter evening, 32 people gathered in the fellowship hall of Crestview Christian Reformed Church in Boulder, Colo.
But these were not the average churchgoing folks. The people who gathered were homeless, and they were at Crestview Church seeking warmth on the coldest of nights.
Recently the metro Denver Homeless Initiative found up to 563 people living on the streets in Boulder, where only 130 beds are available in shelters.
To help bridge the gap, Crestview began working with shelters in 2008 and offering the church building as an emergency warming shelter. Amelia Dickerson, the church’s local missions coordinator, is passionate about helping people who are homeless.
Crestview provides more than just a place to sleep by collecting coats, clothing, shoes, and socks to give to those who need them. The church fridge is stockpiled with home-baked food for those who are hungry.
Dickerson sees the church’s involvement in this outreach as obeying Jesus’ command. “Jesus tells us to care for the widows, the children, the blind, the lame, and the poor,” she says. “Hosting the warming center is an attempt to turn ourselves towards being obedient to that command in a literal way.”
The people who enter the shelter see it in another light. Tom, a rugged older gentleman visiting the shelter, said, “You know, when people at a church who don’t know you treat you better than your own family, well, that says a lot.”