Become a Network Congregation

At the core of most faith traditions is the prophetic call to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. The Family Promise network allows congregations of all faiths in the Kingsport area to respond to the needs of homeless families in a coordinated way. It provides the opportunity to draw together in shared mission an interfaith community that builds hope and touches the lives of both those who volunteer and those whom they serve. There are three ways to become a Network Congregation.
  • Host Churches Host Congregations provide lodging, meals and caring hospitality for homeless families with children four times a year for a week at a time. Guests arrive at the church around 5:30 p.m. and depart in the morning around 7:30 a.m. Each host church has a coordinator (or coordinating team) to arrange for meals and volunteers to serve the Guests while they are staying at the Host Church.
  • Support Churches A small church, a Sunday School class or a Church Service organization can provide much needed services by working with a Host Church during their hosting week. A Support Church might provide meals or volunteers to serve as Evening or Overnight Hosts one or more times during the week.
  • Contributing Churches Contributing Congregations provide us with much needed funds for operating the Day Center and providing supportive services to our Guests.
Four times a year the Host Church will have:
  • one to four families (2 to 14 homeless mothers/fathers with minor children; 10 is ave.)
  • stay overnight at your church (5:30PM to 7AM.)
  • seven nights (Sunday evening to the next Sunday Morning.)
FPGK provides:
  • screening for Guests for drugs, alcohol and violence.
  • folding beds, cribs, pillows, blankets: delivered to you on Sunday of Host Week
  • transportation of Guests to the church at 5:30PM and from the church at 7AM.
  • Weekly Planning Forms to document all the tasks and people needed that week.
  • training and orientation for Coordinators, the church and volunteers.
The Host Church provides:
  • Facilities: Sleeping areas (four for the guest families and two for the overnight hosts), bathrooms and a common area. Using Sunday School Class Rooms for sleeping areas is the most common setup but several churches form rooms with movable partitions in their Fellowship Hall or gyms.
  • 14 suppers (leftovers are appreciated for lunches the next day.)
  • 14 breakfasts.
  • Many dinner and companion people from 5:30PM to about 8PM.
  • Two overnight Hosts (one man and one woman) who sleep over at the church, 8 PM to 7:30AM.
  • 14 sets of sheets and pillow cases.(FPGK has one set of 14 available)
  • Showers are nice but not required. (FPGK will provide showers and laundry at the Day Center.)
(Host Churches are often paired with Support Churches. Support Congregations help out by providing meals and volunteers for one or several nights during the hosting week) Your church members, in Christian love, will meet homeless families, serve homeless families and gain empathy for homeless families as your Guests. (FPGK provides training in empathy, homelessness and service.) The Host Church Family Promise Coordinator is the most important person in the Family Promise Model. The Coordinator at your Church must:
  • have a heart for serving homeless families with minor children, the people Jesus speaks of when He said “Whatever you did for the least of these my brothers, you did for me.”
  • have the organizational skills of a Field Marshall to get together people and resources for 14 dinners and breakfasts, 14 Overnight Hosts, Dinner and Evening Companions and knowledge of the church’s other obligations for the building.
Each Host Church sets its own rules which are explained the first thing Sunday evening as Guests arrive. These include:
  • What parts of the building are open to Guests and what parts are off limits.
  • No Smoking anywhere in the building. Show Guests outside smoking areas.
  • Control of telephones.
  • Parents are completely responsible for their children.
  • No visitors at the church.
  • Guests do not leave the church between 5:30PM and 7AM without prior Director/Coordinator approval and 24 hour notice.
  • Times of lights-out for children and lights-out for adults.
FAQ’s
No. You already invite everyone in Kingsport into your building every week. You are already maxed out as to liability exposure. Family Promise is in the same class as a youth lock-in or overnight trip and does not increase your liability.
No. You are not a “permanent residency” and overnight is not “common” or “your primary purpose”. Kingsport’s Fire Marshall has the weekly Hosting Schedule so they know if people may be in the building if there is an emergency. The Fire Marshall already inspects your building as a public gathering place. They understand FPGK and impose no extra burden on the church. We do advise you to check your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers regularly as any prudent facility manager would. A quarterly inspection as you prepare to Host would be a good time.
Call the Network Director, who will handle problems immediately. The Host Church is to provide a stable, warm, friendly environment for a family under a lot of stress. That is what they need every night and that is what a Christian congregation can provide so well. The FPGK staff is to provide assistance to help the family overcome homeless and the varied problems that cause the homelessness. Your job is warmth and stability with no strings attached except for the Guest family to behave decently while they are in your church.
While some very large churches may have enough volunteers to fill all the jobs by themselves, most churches use the support church system. A small church or even a Sunday School class or an auxiliary group may volunteer to provide one meal (or two or three meals) and the overnight Hosts for one night (or two or three nights). A very good example is a Host Church having two, three or even four nights covered by such Support Churches. This lightens the load for them, builds support for FPGK and helps draw together a community of faith that builds hope.
FPGK does criminal background checks on all families before they are allowed into the program. Anyone with violence or drug abuse will be denied. We can require random drug tests if we get suspicious. Most homeless families are homeless due to loss of jobs, loss of transportation, a medical crisis or the lack of a social network to whom they can turn in time of crisis.