Near High Street United Methodist Church in Springfield, Ohio, a tent city lines a bike trail. These are homes to a growing homeless population.
An encounter with a possible resident of that community changed the lens through which the Rev. Cynthia Atwater viewed ministry. While serving a weekly meal at Central Community Center, housed at High Street UMC, a man requested a shower.
“It was an overwhelming feeling,” said Atwater, the church’s lead pastor. Her inability to fulfill the request sparked something in her. Atwater shared the experience with her congregation and invited them to pray with her about this ministry opportunity and the question, “What is our role as a church?”
For months, Atwater researched similar ministries and sought guidance from professionals in the health care industry. In October 2021, Living Waters Ministry was born with full support from the congregation and leadership board.
“We could work hard or work smart,” Atwater said. “We used what was at our disposal … for ministry.” High Street is equipped with showers that had not been used since March 2020.
Shower appointments can be made at the weekly community meal at CCC for the following day. Upon arrival at Living Waters, guests receive everything they need for a shower, including socks and underclothes.
Support for this ministry in the Miami Valley District comes from donations from the church and local organizations and a grant from West Ohio Church and Community Ministries.
Atwater believes God is continuing to open doors for ministry. Soon, a team from the congregation will begin to walk the tent city to deliver food and toiletries. They also hope to pray with them and tell them that God loves them.
“A shower is something very basic,” Atwater said. “It’s giving dignity, and that is free.”
Written by Amy Graham, Communications Specialist