Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., has announced a $100,000 gift to help build North Carolina’s first homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth.
The gift, announced March 30, will help Time Out Youth — a support and advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth ages 11-20 — to construct the shelter on property purchased in January in Charlotte.
“This is a remarkable gift and statement on inclusion of LGBTQ community in a truly welcoming and affirming congregation,” said Rodney Tucker, executive director of Time Out Youth and a 1992 graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Scott Crowder, a member of the church’s outreach ministry, said Myers Park Baptist “is called to support and protect those who are at risk, dehumanized or excluded.”
Myers Park, which supports several homeless ministries in the Charlotte area, has a long history of progressive social involvement that includes the legacy of Carlyle Marney, pastor of the church from 1958 to 1967. He was considered one of the best Southern Baptist preachers of his day and ahead of his time in confronting issues of race and Christian ethics.
Today the church sponsors an LGBT fellowship group and is a member of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, as well as the Alliance of Baptists. The church’s stance on homosexuality prompted the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina to withdraw fellowship in 2007.
Time Out Youth hopes to begin construction on the 10-bed shelter in 2019, with completion some time in 2020.
The organization says despite gains in LGBTQ rights and greater acceptance of homosexuality in society, homelessness among LGBTQ youth continues to rise.
In 2013 the organization received 40 inquiries for housing. The number increased to 57 in 2014 nearly doubled to 111 in 2015.
Studies indicate that LGBTQ youth account for between 20 percent and 40 percent of the homeless youth population.
A needs assessment by Time Out Youth found that 70 percent of homeless LGBTQ youth did not leave their homes by choice. Seventy percent were kicked out, and others said they left because they felt unsafe at home due to sexual orientation or abuse.
Half of LGBTQ youth who had stayed at a homeless shelter said they felt unsafe there, and one in five said they felt “very unsafe” in a shelter.