In the heart of Charlotte’s business and cultural hub you will find St. Peter’s Church. And, for the past seven years, you would also find the Order of Malta on the first Monday of every cold-weather month preparing to host the homeless. In concert with more than 100 churches and temples in the area, St. Peter’s has partnered with The Urban Ministry Center to provide over 17,000 overnight accommodations for more than 1,500 people. The Room In the Inn program has become a core commitment of the Charlotte Region of the Order of Malta, commencing with its first hospitaller.
Members provide transportation from the Urban Ministry Center to a dozen guests who will arrive to the hospitality of warm beds, fresh linens, hot showers, a home-made meal and caring hosts who are as committed to providing companionship and spiritual support as they are shelter and food.
Guests and Members of the Order begin the evening by joining hands in a circle of prayer, which is often led by one of the homeless, some with the oratory gifts of a clergyman. While the men are expressing thanks for the shirts, socks, and toiletries a multi-course dinner makes its appearance.
Knights and Dames prepare the food at home and in the church kitchen hours before our guests arrive. Dames serve our neighbors salads, breads, meat dishes, vegetables and delectable deserts. Then the Members and some of their families join guests at their tables to hear stories and listen to the aspirations and plans that will move our guests from homelessness to employment and permanent housing. The sharing of conversation during dinner is the highlight of the evening. As one Member of the Order commented, “These men are truly an inspiration in their quest to resolve their issues, secure permanent jobs and housing. I am humbled by their perseverance and faith in the future.”
Two “overnight Knights” stay to provide a warm breakfast, provide each guest with a healthy lunch and to thank them for sharing their lives with us.