Forty Years of The Night Ministry

One of the key components to the Bethany UCC mission and ministry is our commitment to service. We give, not only of our money when we can, but of our time. Our greatest partner is this effort is The Night Ministry. Celebrating it’s 40th anniversary year, The Night Ministry “works to provide housing, health care and human connection to members of our community struggling with poverty or homelessness.” In addition, one of their many programs, The Crib, offers food and housing to LGBT youth experiencing homelessness. 

Bethany members and friends volunteer with both programs on a regular basis, but our connection to The Night Ministry doesn’t stop there. In 1976, Bethany Church worked with Rev. Tom Behrens to form the Northside Ecumenical Night Ministry, which would develop into this now national organization that provides these services to more than 50,000 individuals each year.

As The Night Ministry prepares for it’s next forty years of service, we had a couple questions for their executive team.

What is the future for The Night Ministry?
Times may change, but the need to assist those who are on the streets at night will not change. Our Founding President The Rev. Tom Behrens learned about the need to establish an accepting and affirming relationship with youth and adults on the nighttime streets when our work began 40 years ago. He learned they had complex challenges, including a lack of housing, social isolation, and a need for health care. The Night Ministry will continue providing nonjudgmental acceptance as we meet those needs in the future. The Night Ministry will strengthen itself as a high-impact organization that provides housing, health care, and human connection to the poor and homeless. In the future, The Night Ministry is seeking to expand its programs—both the number and type of services available as well as increasing the depth of its current services. It will be financially healthy, will continue to position itself as a thought leader in the field, be governed by an engaged board, and foster an innovative and collaborative work environment, where high-performing employees thrive.

How important is involvement from local churches to the success of The Night Ministry’s Mission?
Congregations provide vital support in the form of financial donations, in-kind goods, meal groups, and prayer support.  Congregations, including Bethany, help to provide 10 meals a week at the Health Outreach Bus and 5 meals each weekend at The Crib.  Through congregations, we are able to provide approximately 1,600 individual meals to hungry people in need each week.  With these meals come the volunteer groups that serve—providing the human connection that is at the core of our mission.  The congregational support we receive at all levels allows The Night Ministry to continue to serve the most vulnerable in Chicago.

Our Next Opportunity
We have secured our summer dates when we will be preparing and serving food for The Night Ministry. They are Sunday, June 12th, Sunday, July 10th, and Sunday, August 14th. If you would like to volunteer for this good work, please contact Robin Schultz at