Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Church on the Street

   A police officer troubles a homeless mas outside the “Church on the Street,” a non-profit church for the homeless located on Holly street in Bellingham, Wa. Pastor Chuck and Cari Sargent created this unique church in October 2003. The couple decided to create the church after a family trip to the Church on the Street in Atlanta, Ga. “God spoke to each of us about starting a Church on the Street in Bellingham, ” Chuck says. 
  Chuck and Cari met in January of 1986 and married 3 years later. They lived very similar lives to those whom attend their service today. They both struggled with drugs most of their lives and continued to do so throughout their relationship, “We were a perfectly miserable couple,” Cari says. Chuck, at the age 13, was homeless, addicted to alcohol, pot, and freebasing cocaine. It wasn’t until July of 1994 when Chuck made a drastic change in his life; Cari had attempted to kill herself after eating a lethal dose of pills. In the hospital, a doctor told Chuck that Cari would most likely not make it and if she did, she would have brain damage. Chuck prayed to the Lord for the first time with his three-year-old daughter in his lap. He asked The Lord to let his wife live and that he would never do drugs or alcohol again. Cari survived and suffered no brain damage. From that day on, the two dedicated their lives to the Lord and savior. 

 In October of 2003 Chuck was ordained to ministry and began his services one month later. Money was tight in the beginning and finding a place to do his service was tough. His service began in forests and streets around Bellingham. In 2006 Chuck leased a large space on Cornwall Avenue and his church quickly grew in popularity. Hundreds of homeless people from around the city would utilize his services and pay dues to the Lord. Now Chuck does his service on 901 west Holly Street.

   Chuck collects donations from all around town, which are handed out at the beginning of Wednesday and Friday services. Products include shampoo, clothing, and food for pets. “ We can help them, to help themselves,” Chuck says.

 Chuck prepares a large batch of soup before service. In addition to donations, Chuck provides meals and beverages for the homeless. Chuck dedicates three days a week to the church and spends the rest of the week working as a contractor. “My job is construction, but my calling is the Church,” Chuck says.  

Agnes Koll and Michael Sharp perform Christian rock before Sunday service at the Church on the Street. Agnes and Michael have been coming to the service for several years and enjoy the open and caring atmosphere. “Our vision is to reach the homeless for Christ and to integrate them back into society,” Chuck says.

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