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Friday, December 20 2019
Room in the Inn: Welcoming Our Neighbors with PACEM

PACEM (People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry) is a coalition of 80 congregations in the Charlottesville area that work together to provide shelter for members of our community experiencing homelessness during the late fall and winter months.  Last year 250 adults stayed at least one night; an average of 43 men and 15 women stayed in the shelters each night. Broadus is one of those 80 congregations. For the first years of our involvement, we primarily helped with providing and serving meals at other churches that were hosting the sleep site, but that all changed four years ago.  At the last minute, the church that was hosting the women the week before Christmas had to drop out, and we were asked if we could host them instead.  

To be honest, we were a bit startled by the request.  It was Advent, and we had so many activities planned already.  We asked ourselves if we had room to do the job of hosting a large group of women for a week.  That’s the question that determined our answer. “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”  There was room in the Broadus inn, and we happily invited the women to eat and sleep in our beautifully decorated building and prayed that the welcome they found here would convey the message of Christmas in a tangible way.  God loves us, each and every one of us. We are all His children, and He offers to each of us the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love.

That first year, we prepared for the number of guests we were expecting, and cots were set up in the classrooms across the hall from the sanctuary.  But when they arrived that evening, there were more women than would fit in that space, so we set up the overflow cots in the sanctuary. Part of the Christmas transformation of the sanctuary is a series of quilted banners made over the years by talented artisans in our congregation.  I don’t know that anyone paid particular attention to what the banners said when they set up the overflow cots, but the “Come to Bethlehem” one became part of the bedroom decor. A reminder to us that year, and every year since, that the true measure of our Christmas celebration is whether we have reflected God’s love not only in our words, but also our actions.

We don’t ask the question of whether we can host anymore.  After that first year, it’s a given. The week before Christmas, we are privileged to be the inn that welcomes some women who, at least for now, don’t have homes.  And those cots lined up along one of the walls of the sanctuary are a visual reminder that Jesus comes to us, not just at Christmas, but each and every day of the year asking if there is room in our hearts for Him. 


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At Broadus Memorial Baptist Church we believe we are called to love God and love our neighbors. The stories you read on this blog offer a witness to the ways we respond to God's love and seek to share that love with others. 

Scripture describes the church as a body, made up of many parts. Just as your tiniest toe isn't aware of the intricate work your heart or brain do, it can sometimes happen that people in the church body only see what is happening immediately around them. Our hope is that reading these stories will help forge connection and inspire greater love and understanding for one another.

At Broadus we are a community defined by warm-hearted fellowship and thoughtful inquiry. We hope you see evidence of that in the stories we share here. We hope you know, or come to know, that you are a part of God's grand story and that you are welcome to join us, on a Sunday, a Wednesday, or any gathering in between. 

The life of faith is a journey, and we are not meant to walk it alone. Our stories connect us and we are excited to share some of ours with you. 

If you have a story you'd like to share or would like to connect in some other way you can send an email to or call (434) 977-7381.