Free parking

May 7th, 2019

When we’re young, camping sounds fun to most of us. But as adults, not having a place to lay your head can cause all sorts of headaches. What would you do if you didn’t have a place to live? Some churches have begun a new form of hospitality to answer that question: A parking lot ministry! It’s much more than the four words suggest. Individuals sleeping in their cars face a number of disturbances in the city, such as being ticketed by police, cars getting booted or being roused from sleep and asked to move. Parking in a church parking lot means safer and uninterrupted rest.

Community matters

Lake Washington United Methodist Church in Kirkland, Washington, launched its Safe Parking initiative in 2011. “People need a safe place to park, and we have a parking lot that can hold about 100 cars,” according to Karina O’Malley, the church coordinator of Safe Parking. “The Safe Parking program especially benefits women and families because women feel safer sleeping in a parking lot occupied by other women,” says O’Malley. Some women believe it fosters a sense of sisterhood and unity.

The extra mile

Even when parked in a safe location, sleeping in a vehicle certainly has it’s challenges. At Lake Washington UMC, guests also have access to the church’s restrooms and kitchen. In addition, the church loans laptops and allows guests to use its Wi-Fi connection for job searches or to research additional means of support. Safe parking offers hospitality to those who may not easily receive it otherwise. O’Malley agrees that more shelters are necessary and are certainly preferable to safe parking. She is thankful the Safe Parking program at her church can operate as one piece of a larger system of care. “We’re using the resources we have to help those in need,” she says. It’s our calling as Christ-followers to do the same!

Question of the day: How can we increase our empathy for others?
Focal scriptures: Deuteronomy 4:25-31; Luke 6:27-38; Acts 9:36-42

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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