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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