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New Urban Ministry House

New Urban Ministry House was created near downtown South Bend.  Five upperclassmen find a place where they can live out Christ-like service and love.

According to the “official” mission statement, The Urban Ministry House is a community of believers committed to be Jesus to “the least amongst us” in the local community (Matt. 25:21-46).  This year at Bethel (actually on Calvert Street) five upperclassmen have started a community house where they live and serve the South Bend community.

“We look at it as an opportunity to minister intensely, sincerely, and accessibly,” says senior, Ty Grant.  All the original residents, Tony Wiltse, Sam Palombo, Derek Griffey, Tyler Grant, and Calvin Walterhouse, are either juniors or seniors who wanted a greater opportunity for service than normally available while living on campus.  After helping out in past years with South Bend’s Catholic Worker and building relationships with the cities homeless and forgotten, the students wanted to do something more.

Wiltse noted, “We wanted to have real neighbors and know real people.”  Derek Griffey added, “We want to be a light in a dark place, and go beyond service and actually do something.”  So they moved into a house off campus in South Bend. All the students have a full time academic schedule at Bethel and also participate in building the community around the house. Ty Grant notices that, “The community (of brothers) makes it easier to live like Christ, with encouragement, service, and accountability.” While growth is happening inside their four walls, they definitely want to have an impact on their neighbors in the area.

“We want to love the people like Jesus would wherever there is the opportunity and to keep our eyes open,” explains Calvin Walterhouse.  Each member of the house plays a part in the goal. 

“We understand that getting to know people is a long process,” says Tony Wiltse, “but we want to become friends with the neighbors so that we can better fill their needs.” Members of the house see it as “relational-resource” or a “place of refuge.”

“We want the people to be comfortable with us and ask things of us and rely on the house,” says Sam Palombo. 

Derek Griffey calls it “a place for people who are blessed to serve people who have needs.”  They have already had a block party for 25 of the neighbors, and use every chance they get to start building relationships. The house already has a good reputation; Derek Griffey says that the lady next door tells others, “They are the nice boys that help us fix things.”

This house began as an idea.  Sophomore Matt Molcjan, who moved into the house this semester gives a simple and clear explanation for his passion for the community house: “As I have read the Bible, Jesus pressed this upon my heart day after day:  love your neighbors.”  It just starts with an idea and an opportunity, and for these men, they are right where they are supposed to be.