Hardin Co. parish provides meals and warming shelter

St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., along with other churches and faith-based organizations in the Hardin County, Ky., area have taken steps to provide for those in need.

An effort to provide shelter for those in need, called Room in the Inn, began Dec. 1 and continues through February. Each Wednesday evening, St. James will offer guests a warm, safe place to come in from the cold for the night. Each guest will be served a light breakfast the following morning.

Room in the Inn is a joint effort between St. James, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Helping Hand of Hope, Warm Blessings and 11 other area churches. Each of these organizations and churches will open their doors one night a week. The model is based on a winter shelter program, which was developed in Nashville, Tenn., three decades ago.

In a news release from St. James, Father Martin Linebach, pastor, noted that as St. James “embarks upon this new venture, Pope Francis calls for all Catholics to follow the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.”

Pope Francis has announced an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which is set to begin Dec. 8 — the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

“Our parishioners who have volunteered to assist with this new ministry are providing the example for the rest of our faith community in how to live in the way Pope Francis has challenged us during this upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy,” Father Linebach said.

More than 80 parishioners of St. James have volunteered to take part in the shelter program, the news release said. The volunteers have been trained to provide “a safe, comfortable space for guests while also affording them the dignity and respect they deserve,” it said.

St. James also continued a 29-year-old tradition last week of providing a Thanksgiving meal to those in need in partnership with the non-profit Helping Hand of Hope.

More than 400 volunteers, including 85 drivers, prepared and delivered 895 meals to 337 households last week.
In addition, about 30 people chose to dine at St. James School between noon and 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Father Linebach said he is proud of his parishioners who worked hard to serve those in the community that are in need.

“In December the Catholic Church begins the Holy Year of Mercy. The tradition of the Thanksgiving dinner at St. James emulates a core conviction of the Catholic faith by exhibiting God’s mercy through a corporal work of mercy,” he said.

Numerous other Hardin County churches and organizations assisted with the project by providing food and offering financial support, a news release from the church said.

Among those who helped were First Christian Church, First Presbyterian Church, Christ Episcopal Church, Memorial United Methodist Church, House of Prayer Lutheran Church, Immanuel Baptist Church and Northside Baptist Church.

The Thanksgiving dinner began in 1986 with just a few St. James parishioners, who served 48 people, the release said. In the 29 years that the dinner has taken place, St. James estimates that 14,000 meals have been served.

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