Room In The Inn
Room In The Inn began in the winter of 1985 in Nashville, TN, when Father Charles Strobel, opened the doors of his parish to individuals seeking sanctuary in the church parking lot.
In 2006, Area Relief Ministries brought the program to Jackson, TN, a city that does not have a permanent shelter for the homeless.
The program works as a partnership between ARM and local churches. ARM coordinates the program and provides sheets, blankets, towels, pillows, and cots. Local congregations allow the men to sleep in their facility from 6 PM to 6 AM, providing dinner and light breakfast during the winter session, from November 1 to March 31. Through this program, shelter from winter elements has been provided for hundreds of men. Life-changing relationships have also been formed through the fellowship between the men and volunteers at the churches.
Want your church to be involved?
- Churches of any size may participate in Room in the Inn. As long as you have the space to set up at least 10 cots (which doesn’t require much space at all), you’ll be fine. You do not need to have a gym or large facility to accommodate guests for Room in the Inn.
- Every church varies. You have the freedom to set your max limit of guests. Some participating churches can only accommodate 10 guests while others take a max of 25. Though some churches have to take more, it is ARM’s goal never to send more than 14 individuals to a single church so that the purpose of the program, fellowship, does not get overshadowed by large numbers.
- Transportation to and from ARM, a warm meal for the night, an atmosphere of hospitality and fellowship, a place to sleep, and breakfast in the morning. We will provide all cots and linens.
- From 6pm to 6am. You are expected to pick the guests up at ARM’s offices by 6pm the night of, and return them downtown at 6am.
- We always encourage churches to get as many people involved as possible. We promise you that you will be blessed more as a result of serving than the blessing you give to those you serve. Room in the Inn will give your congregants the chance to break down stereotypes of homelessness and get to know people on an individual level, all while you faithfully obey Jesus’ command to welcome strangers (cf. Matt. 25:30-41). Though some larger churches may have 40 people come out to volunteer, most have about 10-15, and others are even able to do everything with only 5 people. If you have transportation, food, and two adult men to stay the night, you’re covered.
- In twelve years of doing Room in the Inn, we have never had a major incident take place at a church. ARM staff does alcohol and substance abuse screenings at our facility, so no one will come to your church intoxicated. The guests that you serve will be extremely gracious for what they receive and do not want to hurt the integrity of the program. Most of the men who participate in Room in the Inn police themselves since one guest will not let another ruin it for him. As for insurance, your standard liability insurance for normal church meetings should be fine. Though the men stay the night, Room in the Inn is just considered a church event like any other. ARM also provides standard safety protocols during each congregation’s orientation.
- No. This is often a concern for many churches thinking about getting involved in Room in the Inn. Showers are not required. ARM runs a day center that opens when you drop your guests off in the morning. There the men are provided with showers, lockers, and laundry facilities.