Story by Hannah Shepperd
Communications Associate, Mountain Sky Conference of The United Methodist Church
The Rev. Josh Walker of Erie United Methodist Church doesn't confine ministry within the walls of his Colorado church building.
Walker has been involved in Agape, an overnight shelter for homeless adults in Longmont, Colorado, for two years. Through the bible study Walker leads at Agape, he is able to reach adults participating in the shelter's program to walk alongside guests on a path to self-sufficiency.
Walker was approached two years ago by an outreach representative from Agape looking for volunteer pastors to start a bible study. Walker agreed, eager to reach more people from different backgrounds.
"The church serves the community first," Walker expressed. "This doesn't just include folks within the church walls, but also people who can't make it to the sanctuary on Sunday."
Walker shared that he has always felt a calling to ministry with the homeless. And with Agape, he gets to live out that calling at one of the few shelters in the area. Although there is another shelter in Boulder, it is difficult for the homeless population in Longmont to travel such a distance. This is where Agape comes in.
"Agape serves a more acute need. And there is one criteria for entry," Walker shares. "Guests must be sober." Because of this stipulation, Agape does not qualify for certain types of funding. The shelter often seeks support from local donors and projects.
Walker expressed the joy he receives through his weekly meetings at Agape. "We meet on a personal level. Its not just about bible stuff," Walker said of his study at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. "We talk about how God is moving in our lives." Walker's bible study has touched many lives, including one guest who just made the decision to be baptized.
Walker is one of two local pastors who lead a bible study at the shelter, and his efforts do not go unnoticed. One member of Walker's church shared on social media, "All of us here at Erie UMC are so proud of our pastor for reaching out to the homeless like this."
To learn more about Agape and ways to support the shelter, visit www.agapelongmont.org/