Why Manna House?

Organization

Manna House Memphis offers hospitality to homeless and poor guests. Hospitality includes welcoming of guests, and the offering of basic services such as clothing, hygiene items, showers, and serving coffee or other beverages. We seek to interact with our guests and will learn their names and their stories. Manna House is grounded in the spirit of the Catholic Worker Movement and thus we seek to welcome our guests from the streets with a spirit of hospitality that respects their dignity as human beings. We are open every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 8:00-11:30 a.m. On Monday and Thursday mornings we offer showers for men. On Tuesday mornings we offer showers for women. We believe compassion is contagious and that justice structures compassion so that all may have life to the full.


Mission

Hospitality to homeless and poor persons in the city of Memphis; Advocacy for persons on the streets; Opposition to violence–on the streets, by the police, through imprisonment, executions & war; Witness to the reign of God.


OUr Vision of Hospitality

In offering hospitality we affirm that hosting our guests involves not only providing needed material goods, but more importantly honoring our guests’ humanity and personhood.  We are not a social service agency; rather we are persons welcoming other persons to share ourselves, our gifts, and gifts we have received from others.  We seek to know our guests as persons with names, histories, and hopes.  We seek to be stewards of God’s graciousness, not possessors of power and privilege dispensing charity from above.  We seek to build relationships and we are not out to “save” people or remake them in our own image.  We recognize and repent of our racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism, and we seek to create a community of hospitality in which all are welcomed as children of God.  We recognize our own vulnerability and brokenness as we minister with our guests who are also vulnerable and broken.

We are committed to providing a place where everyone is treated with respect, both guests and volunteers.  In engaging with each other as persons we refrain from the posting of rules.  We do not ask for identification.  We reject racist, sexist, and any other form of denigrating language.  We respond to conflict in a spirit of peacemaking and nonviolent conflict resolution.  We sometimes have to ask a guest to leave who has become disruptive or abusive so that the peace of hospitality may continue.

We abide by the vision and practices of Manna House that are necessary for the good order needed for hospitality.  Among those practices is the recognition of the need for boundaries and limitations on what we can offer and when.  We affirm that sometimes it is necessary to say “no” to a request from a guest in order to continue to say “yes” to those forms of hospitality to which we are committed for the long haul.  We recognize our limitations and seek to be honest with our guests about what we can and cannot do.

Before we open at 8:00a.m., we gather for a brief prayer.  To prepare for the day, including making job assignments, and to make time for prayer we ask volunteers to arrive at 7:45a.m.  We also gather at the end of each morning at 11:30a.m. for prayer and reflection.  We consider this time together after we close to be crucial to our practice of hospitality.  During this time we encourage each other to share our experiences from the morning of offering hospitality, to examine how we may improve in our practice of hospitality, and to bring all that we have done to God in prayer.