Some of the folks who walk through the front door of Shades of Grace have no family, no friends, no home, no money, nowhere to go. They’re simply looking for some place they can feel safe and welcome.
And, on this Pentecost Sunday, which is recognized and celebrated as the birth of the Christian Church, the Rev. Will Shewey says Shades of Grace could not provide the resources to the community it serves without the help of so many others.
“Pentecost is the birthday of the church. The Christian Church is made up of all denominations. At Shades of Grace, we are limited and we recognize our limitations at Shades of Grace,” Shewey said. “We can’t be all things to all people. But when these other denominations come alongside of us, it’s a beautiful thing. We don’t even ask, ‘Are you Baptist? Are you Pentecostal? Are you Methodist?’ Lots of times they will tell us who they represent. But it’s just a beautiful picture of the body of Christ.”
Shewey says he cannot think of one denomination that has not come to offer some sort of help to Shades of Grace, which is located at 313 East Sullivan St.
“We have so many people who are partnering with us because of our strategic location in what we call Ground Zero here in downtown,” said Shewey. “We’re in the epicenter of the homeless and marginalized community. Some of the churches who have stepped up and offered us help, they have the resources, but they don’t have the location that we have.”
After relocating to the Tri-Cities area from North Carolina a few months ago, Rev. Mary Louise Sitton, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Blountville, recently discovered Shades of Grace.
“Pastor Will describes Shades of Grace as God’s living room,” said Sitton. “He invites all of us to come into that living room and be a part of that life. I think that is unique and it is absolutely a gift from God. It’s amazing how much has been done in the Shades of Grace congregation in such a short period of time. They couldn’t manage to do all they’re doing without the help from so many different places.”
Sitton and her congregation at Immanuel have provided and served meals at Shades of Grace. And, thanks to a recent grant, Sitton and her church will be able to provide whole and chocolate milk to Shades of Grace for the next 10 to 12 weeks.
In the coming months, Immanuel will also be adding a columbarium to its cemetery. A spot there will be designated for the ashes of the Shades of Grace’s congregants who passed away, but had no family to claim their remains.
“There are so many ways that we can help. It can be just to go there and worship, take food or bring milk or buy pillows, if they need pillows,” said Sitton. “It’s been a blessing. Every time I go there, I meet more and more people. I really look forward to my time there. Shades of Grace is helping all of us as Christians and believers. We have a focus now of how we can help.”
Ricardo Dorcean is the lead pastor at The Father’s Kingdom Christian Center, a new church plant in Kingsport. Dorcean and his wife, Chaka, began volunteering at Shades of Grace during the holidays.
“We had actually been trying to find a ministry to partner with,” he said. “We were already doing some ministries to the homeless and the impoverished and, to me, it just seemed to make more sense to all come together instead of having so many different (ministries) in different places. We discovered Pastor Will and we’ve been helping ever since.”
Chaka Dorcean offers spa treatments to anyone at Shades of Grace who might need one.
“She does manicures and pedicures,” Ricardo Dorcean said. “It’s been such a blessing.”
Shewey says the pedicures are especially appreciated by those who spend most of their days — and maybe their nights too — walking the streets. Shewey said 26 folks got pedicures last week — a new record.
"God is so great and so dynamic, one denomination could never capture the essence of who God is all by itself. It takes all denominations to put a face on that," Shewey said.
For more information on Shades of Grace and how you can help, visit the church’s Facebook page.