In 2017, four United Methodist churches in Rogers -- Central UMC, First UMC, Oakley Chapel UMC and Grace UMC -- came together to find the biggest needs not just in Rogers, but Benton County. These congregations came to recognize that teen and young adult homelessness was a major issue in their community that no one was addressing.
Central, First, Oakley Chapel and Grace UMCs are all part of the Arkansas Annual Conference.
"Eighteen-year-olds were aging out of the foster care center or were kicked out of their parent's homes and living in cars," Oliver said. "It really touched our hearts. About a year ago, we started doing fundraisers and different things to try to figure out the best way to have a home for homeless young adults and teenagers in the area."
Oliver is the minister of Missions at Central United Methodist of Rogers, and he said the three other churches decided to model their new home after Christopher's House in Springdale. Christopher's House is a partnership between First United Methodist Church Springdale and Teen Action Support Center, or TASC, to provide a home for families needing transitional housing.
|Volunteers from churches in the Rogers area have joined together to build a home, Tapestry Home, for homeless teen and young adults in the area.||Photo Provided by Tapestry Home.|
Dawn Spragg is an ordained deacon at Central United Methodist Church and is also a co-founder of TASC. The non-profit focuses on teen homelessness in Northwest Arkansas.
Spragg said she and her husband founded the non-profit 15 years ago. She said has been on staff at the church as one of the pastors for 12 years, including serving as the youth pastor for two years.
Oliver said at first, the group struggled to find the money to purchase a house. They tried having bake sales and other similar fundraisers, but it wasn't enough. It wasn't until an anonymous donor wanted to purchase the house that they really got started.
Oliver said the name of the house, the Tapestry Home, refers to the weaving together of the churches and the community, with the goal of ending young adult homelessness.
Dawn Spragg said Oliver and the Micah 6:8 ministry reached out to several agencies and several people in the church community to see what some of the needs were in the area.
"And then they landed on this one," she said. "We have a partnership and we do the casework for the family in the home, and make sure they are following the guidelines of being in the home and have the resources and education they need.
"My agency makes sure all of that gets managed and Micah 6:8 makes sure the house is in order. We work with the family that is in there and they have volunteers to help them."
Oliver said the long term goal is to, first of all, create enough enthusiasm to have the funding along the way, which includes earning grants, HUD money and other donations.
"This first model will serve as a catalyst," Oliver said. "And if we see the success that we have this first home, hopefully, we can buy a second home or a third home. Ultimately, our goal is to have as many as we think we can manage."
excerpt from a story by Sam Pierce, featured contributor, Arkansas United Methodist magazine
This story represents how United Methodist local churches through their Annual Conferences are living as Vital Congregations. A vital congregation is the body of Christ making and engaging disciples for the transformation of the world. Vital congregations are shaped by and witnessed through four focus areas: calling and shaping principled Christian leaders; creating and sustaining new places for new people; ministries with poor people and communities; and abundant health for all.