Part 6 in our "12 Days of Christmas" series
KINGSPORT, Tenn. (Dec. 30, 2014) --- Shades of Grace, a new church start in the Kingsport District, has witnessed too many extraordinary acts of love during this Christmas season to condense into a single account. Although not yet chartered as an official church, we have been enriched by several denominations and caring individual congregants.
Highlands Fellowship’s campus in Gray, Tenn., donated food trays and gift bags for our homeless constituents. The United Methodist Valley Parish from Kingsport District created and delivered unique sleeping mats woven from recycled plastic grocery bags. Several local United Methodist congregations sponsored white-sock and winter-wear drives to distribute to our indigent community.
A young adult lady was released from jail after a DUI charge and was sleeping on the streets when her plight was made known. A family who recently began worshiping at Shades of Grace offered her a home which she received in time for Christmas. Two homeless young men who sleep under a bridge in the city were baptized during Advent and are now active in our congregation.
Through sacrificial acts of love, more than 400 meals were served during our first Christmas community meal. We might have had a setback on Christmas Eve, when the building was burglarized and expensive equipment was stolen. However, the same week a terminally ill man who had never been to Shades of Grace sent a donation of almost $7,000 dollars, sharing his appreciation for our inclusive ministry. He passed away from ALS the morning after Christmas.
The chorus of a song I wrote titled “Shades of Grace” summarizes what is happening here in downtown Kingsport:
This holy place we know as Shades of Grace
Has become a blessed and sacred meeting space
Where the least, last, lost and lonely
Can find some hope amid life's crazy race.
The Rev. Will Shewey is pastor at Shades of Grace, a United Methodist congregation. Find more photos, videos, and praise reports on their Facebook page.