Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church


From the Staff @ HIEC

Radical Hospitatliiy

  • Jan 31, 2014
  • Category: General, All, 2014
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Dear People of Holy Innocents,

On Tuesday when we were completing a staff meeting, it began to snow. Not much, just a few flakes. If we had only known! Soon, many of our office staff would be trapped in cars, just as many of you were, for hours on end. Several never made it home Tuesday night, staying in hotel lobbies or with friends. Such was the story repeated throughout the city.

After sitting in traffic, Melody McNeil returned to the church to wait out the storm. As she arrived, she saw others in our parking lot. She called me. “Could we open the church for stranded travelers?”, she asked. “Of course,” I told her. “Let’s do it!”

Within hours we had over 80 people sheltered at Holy Innocents. Working with our Sandy Springs Mayor, Rusty Paul, we became an official shelter. His response was nothing short of servanthood. We also had amazing support from Sandy Springs Police, Sandy Springs Fire Department, and Council representatives Graham McDonald and Andy Bauman kept me and others in the loop with updates. Throughout Tuesday night, I communicated via facebook and twitter with people all over I-285 and area streets, telling many how to walk to the church during the night. Cell phones became a lifeline to many.

Melody, along with members Anne Hutto and Craig Wilson, became “Holy Inn-o-keepers.” The Holy Family, that family long ago in Bethlehem, lived here in Sandy Springs through them as the lights of our parish church became a beacon of hope to many.   For their servanthood, and so many others who pitched in and helped, I am so very thankful.

By Wednesday morning, I used The City, facebook, and twitter to communicate needs. Within 30 minutes, neighbors were bringing food, medicine, blankets, pillows, and other supplies. Chris Pomar unlocked the pantry in the HIES Upper School. Jan and Rusty Paul, with son Andrew, arrived to cook. By lunch when police brought me to the parish, a buffet was set, a feast. When I saw it, I began to cry. The table of hospitality, the altar of our Lord, was evident in our welcome, in our love, in our hand extended to any in need.

You too witnessed countless acts of goodness. While the media was launching into a blame game, people everywhere sought to be a blessing. On my street, almost every single house took in stranded travelers. Snacks and hot chocolate were given to people sitting in traffic. People walked hours to take medicine to those in need. That we were made for goodness was evident everywhere.

Now that the storm is over, streets returning to normal, what have we learned? What have we learned about our resourcefulness? About faith in action? About the connection between how we worship and how we live?

I cannot wait to see what God does with our experience.

Grace and peace,