One year after a Knoxville congregation voted to close their church, the building and property was sold to an interfaith organization that helps homeless families.
Family Promise of Knoxville closed on the purchase of the former West View United Methodist Church and received the key to the building from the Knoxville District of Holston Conference on Dec. 12.
“It turned out to be a win-win for both groups,” said the Rev. Nathan Malone, Knoxville District superintendent. “Family Promise is getting a building and property that increases their space many times over, and the Knoxville District of the United Methodist Church is receiving funds with which new ministries can begin.”
Located about five miles west of downtown Knoxville on Middlebrook Pike, the former West View United Methodist Church will serve as a day center for homeless families.
Through a network of 38 Knoxville churches, Family Promise helps families with children stay together until they can find a new home. Churches take turns hosting families overnight for week-long stays, according to Mary Thomson LeMense, executive director.
During daytime hours, the families return to the Family Promise headquarters, where staff members assist them in finding employment and a place to live, while school-age children attend regular classes.
"The services provided by Family Promise are very much in line with the ministry of the United Methodist Church,” Malone said.
Family Promise of Knoxville is one of more than 170 Family Promise affiliates in 41 states. The Knoxville day center was previously housed in the 1,100-square-foot Harley House owned by the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Bearden.
At 3,000 square feet, the new day center is almost three times larger, allowing Family Promise to double the number of families it serves at one time from four to eight, LeMense said. The new day center’s name is West View Sanctuary.
“We feel the name honors the history of the neighborhood and the former use of the space as a church,” LeMense told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “It will serve as a sanctuary for our families.”
"We continue to have a presence for this community, with churches within three miles on either side of this location along Middlebrook Pike,” Malone said.
The Knoxville District received $150,000 for the sale of the building property, Malone said, which will be used for "revitalizing ministry in the inner city."
Throughout 2013, Family Promise of Knoxville provided temporary shelter and meals to 22 families, including 36 children. Since the Knoxville program started in 2005, Family Promise has helped a total 165 families, according to the organization’s website.
United Methodist congregations participating in the Knoxville network include Bearden, Ebenezer, First Farragut, Fountain City, Trinity, Church Street, Grigsby Chapel, First Knoxville, MIddlebrook Pike, and Rutherford Memorial.
Holston congregations also support Family Promise networks in Chattanooga, Maryville-Alcoa, Kingsport, Johnson City, and Bristol.
Commentary: Why did West View close? (The Call, 1/15/13)