By Tyler Sprouse, TWK Communications Specialist
- Connection UMC now host to 15-bed, Nashville Launch Pad-operated mobile housing unit for young adults, the first year-round YA-specific center in Nashville.
- Metro Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell: “What we are doing today offers visibility, compassion, and the chance to break the cycle of young adult homelessness.”
- Connection UMC pastor, Rev. Darren Mayberry Wright: “I’m excited to be part of a congregation that strives to exist, not for itself, but for the community.”
Connection UMC has officially opened a recently renovated wing of the church to house Nashville’s first mobile housing shelter specifically for vulnerable young adults between the ages of 18-24.
On Monday, November 27, Community Care Fellowship (CCF) and Nashville Launch Pad held a ribbon cutting ceremony at Connection UMC for the new 15-bed mobile housing unit dedicated to vulnerable young adults experiencing housing insecurity. Nashville Launch Pad, which exists to provide unhoused young adults with “street-free sleeping shelters” that are affirming and open to LGBTQ+ persons and their allies, will run the day-to-day operations of the mobile housing unit utilizing the facilities at Connection UMC.
“This mobile housing center will provide transitional housing for young adults who need it most, 24/7, 365 days a year,” said H.G. Stovall, the Executive Director of Nashville Launch Pad.
Connection UMC is now the fourth church in the TWK UMC Conference to host a mobile housing unit on its grounds, joining City Road Chapel, Bellevue, and McKendree UMCs. Rev. Darren Mayberry Wright, the lead pastor of Connection UMC, detailed what this new housing unit means for the Connection UMC congregation.
“Preachers are supposed to be about the good news, right?” began Rev. Wright. “This housing center is good news. For us to be able to provide a safe space that reminds, not only these young adults who will inhabit the shelter, but the world, that we are all loved, that we all deserve basic human rights, decency, housing, and food, is really special.
“It is exciting to get to embody the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church through caring for those pushed to the margins,” he continued. “Connection UMC is grateful to play its part. It’s also hopeful, because if we all played our part to be the answers to our neighbors’ prayers, I believe we could even more fully bring to bear glimpses of heaven on earth. I’m excited to be part of a faith community that strives to exist, not for itself, but for the community, which is evident in this new project.”
The mobile housing center was made possible through funding provided by Metro Nashville, which, in April 2023, announced a $50 million investment to reduce homelessness throughout Davidson County. CCF received $4.5 million to open four more mobile housing units across the metropolitan area. Nashville mayor Freddie O’Connell was on hand and spoke in praise of the new housing center.
“Not only is this Nashville Launch Pad’s first mobile housing unit, it is Nashville’s first housing center that focuses on providing shelter for vulnerable young adults and safe spaces for LGBTQ+ young persons. This is a big deal,” said Mayor O’Connell. “In Nashville, 2,651 people experienced homelessness in October 2023, nearly one in ten of whom were between the ages of 18-24: a larger percentage than Nashville’s unhoused veterans. Tragically, this is most likely an undercount. What we are doing today offers visibility, compassion, and a better chance to break the cycle of young adult homelessness.”
Ryan LaSuer, executive director of CCF, attested to the effective partnership between CCF, Nashville Launch Pad, and Connection UMC.
“I want to thank not only H.G. and his team, but also the folks at Connection United Methodist Church that have worked tirelessly to create a space where we can bring our young adults experiencing homelessness out of the elements and into safe shelter,” said LaSuer. “I am so thankful for this amazing facility that will be ‘low barrier,’ which means each individual can show up just as they are. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in this place.”
The executive director of the Metro Nashville Office of Homelessness, April Calvin, outlined the importance of the project.
“This ceremony marks much more than just the start of another facility; it is a fresh start for people who have experienced consistent housing insecurity,” said Calvin. “28 percent of LGBTQ+ young adults report experiencing homelessness or housing instability. The new site will lower barriers to help move our young people into housing, offering safe space for them to congregate and be fully themselves.”
As exemplified by this project, when the church centers the needs of its community and follows the promptings of the Spirit, it is able to powerfully embody the love of Christ.