A True Mission Church
Rising Hope UMC started in 1995 when Rev. Keary Kincannon was appointed to make a difference to those in need. Rising Hope’s first location was the back of his car. He also met people in the woods, at laundromats and in low income housing projects. Keary remembers how they moved to a County Low Income Project that let him use the community room. They later moved to a classroom at Woodlawn UMC. From there, they moved to rented space for two years followed by a move to a Town House Complex. In total, Rising Hope UMC has been in seven different locations in their twenty-four years of existence, if you count the back of Keary’s car!
Mr. Edwin Lynch gave approximately $500,000 for the present building at 8220 Russell Road, Alexandria, VA, where they have been for the past fourteen years.
Keary’s prime mentor during his early years was Rev. Dr. Doug Dillard. Keary told Doug that he had a calling to work with the financially needy (or poor). He spent six months talking with people (along Route 1 to determine the need) and today, some 24 years later, Keary and Rising Hope UMC are a major voice for the marginalized.
Currently, Rising Hope UMC has a Food Pantry that serves about 300 families/week (about 200,000 meals/year). The Church also has a Soup Kitchen that supplies 20 to 40 meals a day – 16,000 meals last year. Additionally, Rising Hope has a Hypothermia Shelter that can house 24 individuals/night or about 2800 bed nights/year. The shelter is in partnership with other local churches, and it takes about 250 volunteers from other churches to make the soup kitchen and shelter operate.
Rising Hope is about building partnerships. The partnerships make ministries available that wouldn’t be possible if everyone didn’t work together. Rev. Kincannon works with all the ministries, but he must also be a fundraiser to keep the ministries operational. Many local partnering churches have included Rising Hope UMC in their yearly budget and assist with regular fundraisers to help fund the budget. However, it takes about $460,000 a year to operate Rising Hope. This figure includes staff, building and outreach ministries. When asked what is the greatest need, Keary’s quick reply was financial. It takes money to make these ministries operate.
Also, worship is very important at Rising Hope UMC. Worship times are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 12:00 A.M. and 11:00 A.M. on Sunday. Numbers for Sunday worship range from 40 to 60. The goal at Rising Hope UMC is to make “Disciples”. Many of the ones who come first for help, come back for worship, and also help the ministries to operate.
Lori Roberts, a member of the United Methodist Development Company Board of Managers, is also on the Board at Rising Hope. The Virginia United Methodist Foundation has helped Rising Hope with a loan and has also awarded several grants. It takes many groups and people to make this ministry viable.
The Rising Hope staff has four full-time people and eight part-time paid staff, and dozens of volunteer staff. The church can be considered a 24 hour a day operation, particularly in cold weather. There is a large sitting room with a coffee pot where people can come in and warm up. The Food Pantry is open many hours where people can pick up a bag of groceries. There are many outside groups that come to the kitchen and fix meals for those in need. It’s amazing how many people are needed to keep the Food Pantry stocked and ready for distribution. On Thanksgiving Day, they gave away 430 baskets of food and fed 150 people a hot meal. An equal amount of meals were served on Christmas Day. Food for distribution comes from local church food drives, food drives from the Post Office and food from the Capital Area Food Bank. Christmas Gifts are collected from local churches and agencies. This year, more than 6500 Christmas presents were distributed.
Additionally, staff members are present to help people with housing and, oftentimes, to be a listening ear. There are dozens of volunteers who work in the Food Pantry, the Kitchen, Clothing Closet and Homeless Closet. Although the Clothes Closet is closing down in the next few months, the Homeless Closet will remain open for needs such as shoes, socks, coats, etc. It’s an amazing place to visit. You are encouraged to visit and witness the steady flow of people coming in and out all day.