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Spaces of Hope - Issue #72

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In Lynn Lewis's vocation as a social worker for a dialysis clinic, she frequently accompanies clients to the Davidson County Department of Human Services in Nashville, Tennessee. She had a vision that when people entered that office they should experience hope that there was a better future ahead for themselves and their families. However, the stark walls and institutional furnishings communicated gloom and reinforced some clients' perceptions that they were just numbers on a list. With extremely heavy case loads and very tight budgets, the idea of remodeling the client area was considered an impossibility by department staff.

After much prayer, one Sunday Lynn stood before her congregation, Donelson Heights UMC, and told how God was prompting her to improve the environment at the DHS office. She described her vision of a space where both clients and staff would experience hope, and she asked the congregation to join in making that vision a reality.

Over the next several months a local design school volunteered to design a functional and attractive plan, a community bank donated some furnishings, money was donated for supplies, and church members painted walls. Attractive photographs were hung, and a more effective traffic pattern was developed. A professional client area emerged that communicates the personal dignity and respect with which clients and staff are treated.

To celebrate the completion of the project, the congregation hosted a holiday reception for over 250 DHS staff and clients in the redesigned space. At the reception, Lynn described how the remodel had occurred by saying, "it was just a God thing."

Some Questions for Discussion

  • How does your congregation help members live out their faith in their daily life?

  • Where are the spaces of despair in your community and how might they be transformed to spaces of hope?

  • With whom might you partner to create spaces of hope?

Deb Smith is Director of Best Practices at the Discipleship Ministries. She can be reached at [email protected].

In 2007 church leaders throughout The United Methodist Church in the U.S. were invited to identify churches that demonstrated the vision of discipleship described in the twelfth chapter of Romans. Over 200 churches were surveyed or visited. Issue #69. © 2010 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this page for use in United Methodist congregations.