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Ministry Impact Story: Downtown Presbyterian, Nashville, TN

Meredith Mahon Morris June 25, 2014

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The Historic sanctuary of Downtown Presbyterian

 

Historic Church, Contemporary Ministry 

Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN, is anything but typical. The congregation gathers each week in the historic sanctuary, where they are greeted by a stunning Egyptian Revival motif and antique pipe organ. The church is also home to studio space for eight local Nashville artists. The church prides itself on its commitment to fostering the arts in the community.
But what defines Downtown Presbyterian’s character is their dedication to ministry. “Our main ministry is outreach to the homeless community,” said Ashley Nero, Office Manager. “Being downtown, we interact with them the most. Our pastor uses a Pastor’s Discretionary Fund to write checks to help the homeless get their IDs, birth certificates, things like that. We even have a deal worked out with a local pharmacy to get them their prescription medicines at a discount.”
In addition to serving weekly meals, Downtown Presbyterian also houses two organizations that minister to Nashville’s homeless population: Open Table and The Contributor. Open Table is a non-profit, interfaith organization that helps place the homeless in permanent housing. The Contributor was founded by a member of Downtown Presbyterian’s congregation, and provides homeless people with newspapers they can sell to generate income.

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A man sells copies of the The Contributor in downtown Nashville

Staying Organized

With so much activity going on, the church recently started using Realm software to help manage their ministry. Nero believes it will keep things running smoothly.
“We have volunteers every Sunday and Wednesday who help with our homelessness lunches. We’ve just started using Realm, but I think the Groups feature is extremely beneficial for coordinating volunteers moving forward. The leader can send out one message to everybody without worrying that he missed someone. Groups make it easier to keep communication in mind,” said Nero.
She also feels that the cloud-based software helps her keep track of tithes and giving at Downtown Presbyterian.
“Right now I use Realm most for contributions, and I’ve really enjoyed it. The way the dashboard is set up is really intuitive. We were using Church Windows before, where I had to enter everything manually, but with Realm it’s much easier to keep track of mass data.”
Some members of the church have begun setting up their personal profiles, which helps leadership keep track of who’s who.
“With the profiles feature, I can see someone’s face as I’m entering their contributions and know that it’s them,” said Nero. “It helps me avoid errors. It’s also easy to look someone up by name. It used to take me 30 to 45 minutes to get these tasks done. Now it takes me 15 minutes.”

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The Congregation Gathers for Sunday Worship

Building Relationships

As Downtown Presbyterian continues to utilize Realm, Nero believes it will help the congregation form stronger connections with each other and with new members. She believes that the Groups feature and communications capabilities will make it easy for new members to assimilate into the church and for current members to reach out to them.
“I feel we can use Realm to invite new members to be a part of the community,” said Nero. “Our pastor says, ‘People go to church for a lot of reasons. They stay for two: they feel like they have worth there, or they build relationships there.’ Realm will be a vital tool for building relationships and drawing people in.”

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