Partners with
the Poor

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People often avoid the lowest-income areas in a city, but one group is working in the midst of a tough neighborhood to offer tutoring, meals, and a “home” for many who are literally homeless. Reed Galin explains.  

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(Locator: Nashville, Tenn.)

61st Avenue United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee packs the pews for its Saturday night worship services but rarely sees much money in the collection plate.

The Rev. Paul Slentz, Pastor, 61st Avenue United Methodist Church: “Our membership, which is right around 70 now, is almost all poor folks. People who are working hard but just not making very much money working, to folks living on the streets who are homeless right now.”

Sanford Fambrough was homeless and living a dangerous lifestyle when he found the church.

Sanford Fambrough, Member, 61st Avenue United Methodist Church: “I was walking by and I was scared I was going to get in trouble with the law, so I ducked in here and I been here ever since.”

That was 12 years ago. Fambrough, like others here, has turned his life around.

Calvin Ticey, Trustee, 61st Avenue United Methodist Church: “When I first came here I was down and out, but now since I met Pastor Paul my whole life done changed around.”

The church exists to meet the needs of the community seven days a week—providing free clothing, toys at Christmas, and an afterschool and summer program for neighborhood children. 

Jacob Graham, Member, 61st Avenue United Methodist Church: “We come here after school and tutors, they help us with our homework and stuff. We eat a snack and we play outside and then do our homework.”

Nita Haywood , Youth Director, 61st Avenue United Methodist Church: “It’s more about a safe place. It’s about an alternative to what they could do in the neighborhood after school.”

Tutor: “It’s a big continent, find Africa.”

Other United Methodist churches donate resources and time to keep this one going. In this neighborhood, 61st Avenue is known as a place where you can get a good meal—and food for the soul.

(Congregants sing) “Jesus loves the little children…”

Calvin Ticey, Trustee, 61st Avenue United Methodist Church: “It’s just a warm feeling inside, you know. It’s just like God, you know, you’ve been blessed and everything.”

(Singing continues) “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”


61st Avenue United Methodist accepts donations year-round for its clothing closet and children’s programs. Volunteer tutors are also welcome.

For more information, call the church at 615-292-7184.