Richard Hyatt

Richard Hyatt: Ministry sees success differently

One member says his church is like the Island of Misfit Toys in a popular Christmas movie, and another says Rose Hill United Methodist Church is serving the community in which she exists.

Their emails are in response to an opinion offered by Tom Burnette, an investor in the neighborhood surrounding the SafeHouse, a ministry for homeless people that is operating in the church.

Members Andrew Joe Morrow and Dan Elkins believe changed lives are more important than property values.

From Morrow: "As I sit looking out at the beautiful fall colors, rain continues and the temperature is expected to drop into the low 20s: I am blessed. Unfortunately, many men, women and children including veterans and those who are transitioning back into society are faced with great anxiety for the next few days.

"Their anxiety comes from that most basic struggle, to survive the harsh winter cold. They are the faces of the homeless.

"Most of the homeless in our area are not there by choice but by circumstances in life that has allowed them to fall through the cracks of society.

"Some are young and some old, some very educated, all showing the lined faces of difficult circumstances.

"I was disappointed at the gentleman's reference concerning the homeless -- many who are my friends -- as derelicts and criminals. I would suggest that (he) become a part of the solution to the homeless in our area. He could serve the neighborhood better by volunteering his time, talent and gifts to Rose Hill Methodist.

"Please advise your writer to walk through the doors of that church and feel the greatness that she has offered for over 100 years."

From Elkins: "While I cannot speak so much to the efforts (or lack thereof) of the property owners, I can speak to his concerns regarding Rose Hill UMC and the work we're undertaking. I would like to note that we are PARTNERS with SafeHouse in their work.

"They do not lease space from our church and do not pay us to operate out of our building. We do not operate as a group home and have no intent on doing so. However, should the need arise for our facility to serve as a shelter due to inclement weather -- as was the case a few times last winter -- our doors will be open.

"Specifically, Mr. Burnette called us 'misguided.' His use of that term is understandable. The guide we use to measure our success is not one that makes sense to many people.

"When we see people who are in need of clothing, shelter, food or imprisoned, we feel it is our duty and responsibility as followers of Christ to do what we can to meet those needs."

-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at