“So a pastor walks into a bar ...”
While this could be the beginning of a joke, people from Trinity United Methodist Church and The Foundry Growler Bar certainly hope it isn’t. In fact, they hope that this Christmas Eve they are able to provide some serious help for the homeless in the Rome area.
Community Christmas at The Foundry, a benefit event from 8 to 11 p.m. on Dec. 24 at the bar at 255 N. Fifth Ave., will have something for everyone to enjoy. From 8 to 9 p.m., children can decorate cookies. People will join in carol singing outside and making s’mores around firepits — sharing some quality time with friends and neighbors while benefiting three of Rome’s top agencies that work to help the homeless.
“Our hope is that the community will come together to celebrate hope and to offer hope,” said Nanci Hicks, pastor at Trinity UMC.
Community Christmas will be collecting items to give to The Davies Shelters, The Salvation Army and the Hospitality House.
Items needed and requested include: full size toiletries, white towels, twin bed sheet sets, cleaning supplies, diapers, baby wipes and gift cards for fast food restaurants and Walmart.
These items go directly to these agencies to help the homeless who come to them for assistance.
Anyone who brings a donation will receive a special discount on their purchase from The Foundry as a thank you, said Mindy Hubenthal, co-owner of The Foundry.
“The Foundry wanted to be involved with this project because we love Rome and are happy to be able to offer what help we can to those who are struggling in our community,” Hubenthal said.
The idea of the Community Christmas event started blossoming last year, as Hicks had a vision of having Christmas on Broad Street — to have a time to come together in the heart of the city and decorate a tree, sing carols, light candles and offer prayers of hope.
“I really just wanted to take the church outside the doors of the church,” Hicks said. “It’s the legacy of our denomination of (founder John) Wesley preaching in the fields and coal mines — taking the gospel to people who would otherwise not darken the doorsteps of a church.”
“He also was an advocate of social justice,” she said. “That’s kind of one of the cornerstones of Methodism – that Jesus includes everybody. It’s an old, old story that speaks into the world today.”
The hope of having a Christmas Eve event on Broad Street did not come to fruition, but reaching out to one particular friend took the idea in a slightly different direction.
“The Foundry and Trinity United Methodist Church are neighbors,” Hubenthal said. The church and The Foundry are less than half a mile down the street from each other.
“We have enjoyed a good relationship as such, and when they approached us about doing a homeless drive on Christmas Eve, we were happy to be a part of it,” she said.
For those who may think the pairing is strange or unconventional, Hicks invites them to bring a donation to help those who don’t have a home to call their own.
“If people are curious about it then they can come join us at The Foundry,” she said. “I think that Jesus went to where people were before people began following him.”
The Foundry has helped with benefits for the Davies Shelters previously, so this match-up on Christmas Eve seemed like a logical fit.
“We love Rome and are happy to be able to offer what help we can to those who are struggling in our community. …” Hubenthal said. “This town has so much to offer and we are blessed to be a part of it.”