Citizen-Times profiles First Presbyterian’s ‘Sanctuary Saturday’

From the Asheville Citizen-Times

[Sanctuary Saturday occurs] from October through March in the fellowship hall at First Presbyterian Church [in] downtown [Asheville], when the hungry and homeless seek refuge from the elements and protection from the unknown during the cold winter months.

Now in its fifth year, the Saturday Sanctuary ministry at First Presbyterian is a study in care and compassion, a volunteer-driven project that offers guests a hot, nutritious meal followed by a movie with popcorn, board games and magazines, clean restrooms, benches for a nap and, most of all, fellowship and community with people who do not judge.

“Being present with our neighbors has been the part that’s been most transformative for us,” said the Rev. Michael Poulos, associate pastor for youth and mission. “When you sit down at a table and share a cup of coffee with someone who may be camping in the woods or staying at a shelter, things change.” …

Saturday Sanctuary began modestly in January 2009 after a homeless man froze to death near downtown. The church leadership felt compelled to open its community room on a trial basis for six weeks in hopes of becoming a stronger advocate for the homeless. …


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