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Schenectady church sleeps out to spotlight homelessness

February 16,2017 22:09

This is the second year that Bookhout has held the event in an effort to shine a spotlight on homelessness. "I want to get a first-hand experience, a feel of what their experience is, so that it helps me minister to them better on their level," said ...and more »



Photo: Eliza Mineaux

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James H. Bookhout, Pastor of the Bridge Christian Church, listens as "I Need You to Survive" by Hezekiah Walker plays during the Community Memorial Service at the Bridge Church on Monday, July 11, 2016 in Schenectady, N.Y. (Eliza Mineaux/Special to the Times Union) less
James H. Bookhout, Pastor of the Bridge Christian Church, listens as "I Need You to Survive" by Hezekiah Walker plays during the Community Memorial Service at the Bridge Church on Monday, July 11, 2016 in ... more

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Pastor James Bookhout takes a stance in the boxing ring during the opening of the Lord's Gym on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, at The Bridge Christian Church in Schenectady, N.Y. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union)
Pastor James Bookhout takes a stance in the boxing ring during the opening of the Lord's Gym on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, at The Bridge Christian Church in Schenectady, N.Y. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union)

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Pastor James Bookhout inside the Bridge Christian Church on Crane Street Thursday Oct. 10, 2013, in Schenectady, NY. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union)
Pastor James Bookhout inside the Bridge Christian Church on Crane Street Thursday Oct. 10, 2013, in Schenectady, NY. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union)

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Pastor James Bookhout stands outside the building Tuesday morning Nov. 18, 2014, that was purchased by The Bridge Christian Church for 10K at 735 Crane Street in Schenectady, N.Y. (Skip Dickstein/Times Union) less
Pastor James Bookhout stands outside the building Tuesday morning Nov. 18, 2014, that was purchased by The Bridge Christian Church for 10K at 735 Crane Street in Schenectady, N.Y. (Skip Dickstein/Times ... more

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Schenectady
You could say Bridge Christian Church Pastor James Bookhout will be on a field mission.
But instead of going abroad to some remote country, he and his pastor friends and their church members will set up residence overnight inside refrigerator-size cardboard boxes on the sidewalk just outside the doors of his Crane Street church in a gritty part of Mont Pleasant. This is the second year that Bookhout has held the event in an effort to shine a spotlight on homelessness.

"I want to get a first-hand experience, a feel of what their experience is, so that it helps me minister to them better on their level," said Bookhout, during a recent interview about the sleep-out from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday. "We just want to raise awareness that there are people falling through the cracks and that still need TLC."
As part of that tender loving care attitude, the Bridge also offers free winter gear, including hats and coats, and there is a small laundromat on the premises where people can wash their clothes by appointment.
He noted that people on the streets need to be ministered to as well.
"In my little world on Crane Street, I see a lot of people out after one o'clock, two o'clock in the morning," Bookhout said, adding the city has done a good job in dealing with homelessness. Bookhout said pastors from at least two churches have pledged to join him for the sleep-out, while the clergy at some other churches have said they will be praying for him. He said another church is bringing quilted blankets and toiletries, which will also be available for the needy.
The church doors will be open during the sleep-out for anyone who may not want to be outside in the elements but wants to lend some moral support to the group. Participants may enjoy a warm beverage or some chili to stay warm. Security will be provided.
The church takes monetary donations. New or slightly worn clothing items and donations can be made in the name of the Bridge Food Pantry (mention #1811F) to the Regional food bank on Albany Shaker Road.
Anyone wanting to join in Friday evening may call the church office at 864-5849.
pnelson@timesunion.com • 518-454-5347 • @apaulnelson

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