One formerly homeless parishioner is now the church's lay leader and is preparing to give a lecture at Wesley Theological Seminary. Another parishioner who struggled with addiction is now the chair of the church council and runs the sound system at Sunday services every week.
Two-thirds of the congregation at Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church have been homeless. Over the last 15 years, Lead Pastor Keary Kincannon and his staff have helped parishioners realize their potential.
This weekend, the church will kick off a year-long celebration to mark 15 years of service in Mount Vernon.
In 1996, a new congregation was chartered in the community room of the West Ford Public Housing Project. Today, Rising Hope boasts a congregation of 100 active members, a food pantry, hypothermia shelter, clothing closet, and recovery programs, among other things.
“We have a lot to celebrate,” said Kincannon. “We have been able to accomplish much in our 15 years; we just wanted to make it a year of celebration.”
The mission of Rising Hope was always been to serve the less fortunate and Rev. Kincannon says he feels the church has stuck to that through and through.
“We set out from the beginning to serve people most in need and most on the margins of society,” Kincannon said. “Homeless people, people with physical disabilities, people struggling with addiction and mental health issues. We set out to show God’s love to everybody. We believe everybody was intended to share God’s love with all of creation.”
Kincannon said even when people are at their lowest, the church encourages them to give back. People who take advantage of the hot meals the church provides often come early or stay late to set up or clean up.
The festivities kick off tomorrow with a Fun Fair for children in the neighborhood. There will be a moon bounce and carnival games, but there will also be an opportunity to register kids for summer activities with the church and school supplies in the fall. On Sunday, a service of gratitude will be held at 7 p.m. to commemorate the official start of the year-long celebration.
“It just says we’re all a part of this community, whether you’re living in a small room, the shelter, the streets or a nice house,” Kincannon said.