Faith Mission was started by a group of faithful Lutherans in 1966. For many of those beginning years, homeless men were invited to participate in a worship service before enjoying the hot meal served every evening. The lighted cross saying “Jesus saves” outside the building was an obvious giveaway that the shelter within was run by the devoted. The intent was not to convert but to save.
Arthur Basye, the first executive director of Faith Mission, was proud of the distinction. He states in a Dispatch article in 1979, “Our main purpose is Christianity and then we treat the physical aspect. We try to teach the discipline and the love of Christ. We try our best to find them jobs and return them to a useful place in society.” He said later in the article that “Faith Mission was the only ‘church’ in town “trying to work to diminish our congregation, not build one.”
Many Lutheran congregations banded together to provide hope and healing to Columbus’ homeless population. More than 50 congregations committed to at least one night a month at Faith Mission offering worship services as well as dinner. Without these faithful volunteers, Mr.Basye would have had a difficult time keeping the doors open. He mentions in the same article, “Everything we have is donated and everything we have is given away.”
Things have changed since 1966. Both men and women are served at the shelter. The Community Kitchen serves three meals every day to everyone who is hungry. And there is no worship service requirement to receive services. However, there are now more than 150 congregations who volunteer at Faith Mission on a regular basis, providing and serving meals as well as supporting with donations.
The dedication of not only the staff but also the volunteers in the early days is commendable and something for which we are deeply thankful. Faith Mission has served countless neighbors in need over the last 50 years and will continue to do so long into the future because of the foundation laid by these founders.