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On Thursday afternoon, we are going to need a refrigerated truck to pick up a sizable food donation. Any help would be greatly appreciated! ... See MoreSee Less

1 day ago  ·  

Just wanted to share some more pictures about our Community Easter Lunch! Our volunteers numbered between 25-30 folks (that were actually there, another 10-20 helped with food and other stuff) and they did a GREAT job of serving folks. We gave away shoes, clothes, Bibles, Gospel tracts, and personal hygiene supplies!

I would love to tag all of our volunteers but I know I'll forget some, so if you folks see this, please feel free to tag yourselves!
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1 week ago  ·  

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Donors revive flagging spirits of Union Gospel Mission

I apologize for the lack of updates, but the last couple of months have been a whirlwind of blessings and challenges, triumphs and disappointments, highs and lows. And yet through it all, our God has been faithful.

My last post was about the dire circumstances of Union Gospel Mission. We let our donors and the general public know that we were willing to close our doors unless God, through them, intervened in a miraculous way.

Over the past two months (June and July) we received almost $45,000. Normally, those two months are the worst. If we receive $12,000 during the regular slump, we have a pretty solid summer. This year donations were more than three times that amount.

Please understand, we are not completely out of the woods financially. But response to our appeal is overwhelming. God definitely is making it known that we will be staying open and that HE IS FAITHFUL!

In coming days we will be laying out plans. There is an overwhelming need for the services that Union Gospel Mission has provided for more than 60 years, and we intend to do everything we can — with God’s direction — to continue to provide for those needs.The following passage has been a source of strength for me:

1 Corinthians 16:13-18 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth. I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.

We were determined to follow God’s leading in our valley of despair, to stand fast in faith in God regardless of the ultimate prognosis. There were so many donors who stepped up and gave over and above their normal support; there were those who had never given before who stepped up and gave; and there were many former donors who who renewed their support for Union Gospel Mission. These folks “refreshed my spirit” and through them God’s plan is made known.

I want to personally thank all of you who have given, prayed, supported the Union Gospel Mission. Please stay faithful and together we will watch God do GREAT things.

— Rev. Jon Rector, 423-752-4998

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Union Gospel Mission, in crisis of confidence, asks public support

Larry, a former security guard, went through UGM's Grace Bible study program. He lives now on his own at Superior Creek Lodge in East Ridge.

For over 63 years the Union Gospel Mission has served Chattanooga and the tri-state area in providing for our homeless and needy. During these many years we have been blessed to have been funded directly by Highland Park Baptist Church, the community at large, and a number of local churches. It has never been necessary for us to receive government funding; federal, state, or local.

In April 2008 Highland Park Baptist Church, the mission’s governing body at the time, decided to move in a different direction and close UGM. This move would have eliminated about 100 nightly beds, daily meals and other services for Chattanooga’s homeless.  To continue these necessary services, a new 501(c)3 organization was founded — Chattanooga Outreach Inc.

Chattanooga Outreach sought and received the rights to take the Union Gospel Mission name and operate it as a separate entity. This venture began with no building, no capital fund with which to acquire a building, and limited resources. For over a year, we moved from place to place continuing to provide a high level of services to our community’s homeless and needy population.

After exhausting all other options we found a facility at the foot of Signal Mountain, where we operate our residential “recovery” program. But our current location prevents us from operating an emergency shelter.

The past three years our financial support has dropped and we have been unsuccessful in recovering those donations. At this point that we must ask ourselves “What is the future of the Union Gospel Mission?” It is imperative that we make a decision.

We would like to give the public the opportunity to speak to the future of the Union Gospel Mission.  If you, a good member of our great community, see the need for the Union Gospel Mission to continue and expand (which is still greatly needed), we need your financial support and participation. Over the next 60 days we will gauge response to this letter to determine our future.

Make no mistake; the need for homeless services in our city is as great as it possibly has ever been. Our desire is to continue “meeting needs, making change and magnifying Christ!” as we have done for the past 63 years.

— Rev. Jon Rector, 423-752-4998

P.O. Box 983

Chattanooga, TN  37401

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Christ the sin-bearer relieves us of unbearable burden

As I sit and ponder on the eve of Christ’s Resurrection, I find myself broken hearted. I think of the “Easter” story… the death, burial, and resurrection of our Saviour. That’s easy to say isn’t it? All packaged up in a nice, polite, comfortable phrase, “the death, burial, and resurrection *** .” We are at ease when we consider all that this phrase means to us – as Christians; and yet how often do we allow ourselves to truly contemplate what that phrase meant for the Lamb of God?

Oh, the cost started way before His entry into Jerusalem… You see, according to 1 Peter 1 the plan for the “Easter” story was in place “before the foundation of the world.” Can you imagine? I know that often I have scheduled, things which I am not looking forward to; a visit to the dentist, an uncomfortable or difficult conversation, or any number of other things that I don’t want to do, and I know how miserable I can get as these “appointments” get closer. Yet Christ knew of the plan “before the foundation of the world.”

I know. Jesus is God and I’m sure He deals with things on a completely different plain than I do, but I also know that quite often for me; these dreaded appointments turn out not to be as bad as I had imagined they would be. But Christ, in His omniscience, knew exactly how bad His “appointment” would be. He knew the whole time (thousands of years at the minimum) how He would suffer.

Of course there is the emotional suffering; the rejection of His people, the betrayal of Judas and Peter, and the lack of faith exhibited by His disciples. And there is the physical suffering; the cat of nine tails that shredded His back, the beatings, the mockings, the crown of thorns that pierced His head, the carrying of His cross up to Golgotha, and the spikes — as they were driven through His hands and feet.

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Men at mission visit area churches; how about yours?

Union Gospel Mission residents, from left, Mikey and Fred chat after a worship service at Brainerd Hills Presbyterian church.

God’s Word tells us in Hebrews 10:25 not to forsake the “assembling” of ourselves together. For the past three years the Union Gospel Mission has been honoring the Lord by assembling ourselves together for church services at our location at 124 Signal Hills Drive.

But recently, God has influenced me to change our direction. The Union Gospel Mission is and has always been pro-local church, and we intend rather than conduct our own worship services on the first day of the week to visit local churches.

It is my experience that if a man will truly walk with God, in discipleship, faithful attendance to the local body of believers is absolutely vital!

Too often I have seen a man come through our program, get his life in order, then leave our program to “rejoin society” and have his life fail because of his lack of involvement in the local church.

To assist our men to connect with the local church, we will be visiting local churches for our worship and fellowship on Sundays.  Just this month we have visited a Baptist church, a non-denominational community church and a Presbyterian church.  This new direction lets our men experience a variety of ways in which they can worship the Lord and it provides them with an experience that they may have never experienced on their own. — JON RECTOR

Brainerd Hills Pres member Michael Murphy, left, chats with a UGM resident, Daniel.

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8-year-old girl raises funds for homeless men at mission

UGM director Jon Rector receives a check from Makayla Bishop of Signal Mountain, Tenn.

I recently had the great pleasure of meeting Makayla Bishop. Makayla is a homeschooled 8-year-old whose family attends Sawyer Missionary Baptist Church.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I met Makayla. A few weeks ago Makayla noticed her friends selling coupon books and participating in other “fundraisers” for a number of causes. From needy children wanting “Christmas gifts” to shoeboxes for orphans to a myriad of other worthy causes.

Makayla decided that while toys are great, it is much more important that people eat! Part of Makayla’s homeschooling focus is community involvement. So she decided to raise money to feed the homeless. For several weeks, Makayla asked friends, family members, and others to help make a difference in a homeless man’s life.

Makayla and her family presented the Union Gospel Mission with a check for $204. They also brought a check from their Sunday School class for $50.

“ Not only because she took it upon herself to raise the money but that she was able to give it to you personally and was able to see the people who she would be helping,” said her mother, Heather. “She is a little shy and maybe didn’t say much to you but she has told everyone what she has done and how nice you all were to her.”

On behalf of the Union Gospel Mission I say, “Thank You,” not just for the donation, but for Makayla’s heart to meet the incredible needs people have.

If an 8-year-old girl can partner with the Union Gospel Mission in “meeting needs, making change and magnifying Christ!” — what can you do?

Thank you, Makayla, for your soft heart and hard work and the Bishop family for instilling in your children a giving attitude. May God bless you.

— JON RECTOR, director, Union Gospel Mission

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City’s prayer battle reflected in moral conflicts of homeless

Threatened lawsuits in Chattanooga have put open prayers to God in the spotlight, bringing national attention to the public nature of Christianity. God wants to be publicly honored, worshiped and praised. In the town square, in the august meeting rooms of county commissions, city halls and federal congresses, the God of the scriptures demands to be thanked.

Homeless men are not exempted from this requirement. They may be poor, but they have a duty to be stewards of their talents for God’s glory and to praise him at the gates.

Poor men living along the streets and byways of Chattanooga are no less remarkable than the rich for their pride and vanity. They may look at you warily with hungry eyes and wear filthy collars and tattered pants. But sinful pride controls the hearts of many.

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Former homeless man makes good: Holds job, lives on own, drives car, extends charity

Serving clients at Community Kitchen in Chattanooga are Edward Hice, left, and Emmett Allgood Jr.

Federal welfare spending is $668 billion a year across 126 programs. Since President Obama took office, spending has risen 41 percent, according to the Cato Institute. The official poverty rate is at 15 percent, unchanged from the time of President Johnson’s “war on poverty.” Statist welfare programs fail to address the problems underlying poverty and homelessness. In contrast, the Christian gospel has a good effect on those who yield to its claims about mankind’s fall into sin and Jesus Christ’s efficacious grace and forgiveness. Emmett Allgood is living proof about how one’s life can be redirected from self to caring for others.

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Misguided politicians, colored guns & messed-up priorities.

This week I watched a short news piece about the Chattanooga City Council and there “concern” about “colorful” guns. I wanted to know more, but a quick search only turned up an article from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.

While I am solidly against the unsupervised handling of firearms by children (or anyone else that is not familiar with them) and I am solidly in favor of the safety of children, I am also somewhat befuddled by this matter being a City Council issue. As a minister with years of experience in the plight of humanity, I can’t help but think that there are more pressing concerns for our children.

The color of personal defense weapons is a side issue. (Image from http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/)

For almost 13 years I have seen the effects of many issues on the lives of our citizens’ right here in Chattanooga and the tri-state area. I have seen middle class families devastated by the affects of drugs and alcohol. I have seen the multi-generational attitude of entitlement that has literally enslaved bright and capable people. I have seen gang violence end the lives of too many of our friends and neighbors. Do colorful firearms really make the top of this list of concerns?

Why doesn’t City Council adopt a resolution asking the U.S. Commerce Department to outlaw red and blue bandanas that are typical gang symbols? Or maybe they should outlaw brightly colored sports cars that are so enticing to young drivers and could lead to traffic fatalities? Maybe they could find a way to enforce laws on the books to reduce crime in our fair city!

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Homeless efforts gain, but city zoning vote imposes legacy cost on Union Gospel Mission

From left, Fred Katschke, Rick Hazelrig and Josh Harley of Union Gospel mission hat next to a building the full use of which has been denied by city government.

People count the cost of civil government as levies, imposts, taxes and fees. At 1040 time, half the people file tax returns and apparently owe something to Uncle; they know how much, given that they signed the sworn legal jurat on the form.

But many other costs of civil government exist that have no tally, are not readily visible and for which no one cares. There are orphan numbers to which no one could legally attest.

On the homeless front in Chattanooga, local efforts have brought a success story in the numbers. The Chattanooga Homeless Coalition and other groups have brought chronic homeless down from an estimated 670 people in 2007 to 70 last year, according to a Times Free Press story Monday.

But a small minus calls out from among the harrumphing plusses.

Secret tally at Union Gospel Mission

In 2009 the Chattanooga City Council rejected a rezoning petition filed by Union Gospel Mission in a vote that briefly stirred concern for basic freedom and old-fashioned property rights. The council would not have gone so far as to shut down the mission. But it allowed itself power to thwart full use of a donated building near the mission’s facility.

Despite a recommendation to approve by planning commission staff, the city council voted 8 to 1 against allowing a zoning change that would have let UGM have full use of a donated facility. Only Andrae McGary voted in the mission’s favor. Opposition came from neighboring families who objected to some residents’ criminal records. At least one sex offender was enrolled in the ministry’s Grace Bible study program.

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