Hometown Heroes

This region of the Old Dominion has a reputation for helping and serving others. Micah Ecumenical Ministries consists of a group of Fredericksburg churches that formed a ministry to reach the community’s homeless population.

In fact, the congregations have been assisting in this way since the late 1980s when they began providing a shelter program and meals for those who were ineligible for other assistance.

In 2005, the original shelter was relocated to a new building in the Battlefield Industrial Park and some of the founding congregations came together to organize ways of assisting those whose needs were not being met.

“In response to God’s call to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God [Micah 6:8], they formed Micah Ecumenical Ministries as a nonprofit, responsible for coordinating church efforts to build a better community,” says Meghann Cotter, executive director at Micah Ecumenical Ministries. “By winter, the churches had formally organized a cold weather shelter to keep those who would otherwise sleep outside on frigid nights from freezing to death.”

Since then, programs have been evolving to offer a greater holistic system of care, supportive employment, educational advancement, housing placement and recreation.

The ministry serves from 700 to 1,000 people each year, most of which are homeless, in a shelter or from place-to-place, according to Cotter. These needs are met with more than 500 volunteers per year who serve in multitude of capacities.

“There are few examples in most communities of the churches working together to cultivate community, care for neighbors and meet unmet needs,” Cotter says. “This effort is truly an endeavor aimed at building a just, kind and humble community where all neighbors belong, participate, meet each others needs and engage in meaningful relationships.”

Most recently, the ministry opened a cafe where the whole community can come together.

“It enhances the healthy food options for those living in food insecurity and offers a job training program for those learning to work in a restaurant,” Cotter says.

As for what’s next, Cotter says the ministry is currently focused on “stabilizing the new cafe, expanding days and hours and working with our partnering churches to build a culture of discipleship.” —By Gennie Taylor