OTN’s Street Chaplaincy initiative started in 2013 from the work of two ministers – Rev. Lindsey Krinks and Rev. Ingrid McIntyre – who were both ordained to the streets. It built off Lindsey’s research and exploration of the model of Street Chaplaincy while at Vanderbilt Divinity School.
Street Chaplaincy is a form of spiritual care that involves both presence and accompaniment. For Street Chaplains with OTN, “presence” involves providing end-of-life care, holding funerals and memorials for people who die, performing weddings, house blessings, and other rituals (when requested), doing “street rounds” in different parts of the city, and providing pastoral visits to people in homeless encampments, hospitals, jails, soup kitchens, or their new apartments. “Accompaniment” involves journeying alongside people through difficult transitions and standing (and sometimes marching and protesting) beside them as they seek to claim their rights and dignity in the midst of systems that discard, displace, and dehumanize.
Most of our friends on the streets have experienced trauma, oppression, and/or “adverse childhood experiences” and as they are working toward housing, they are also working toward a deeper sense of healing and wholeness. Our Street Chaplains help to provide a space where that deeper sense of healing can occur.
As an interfaith nonprofit, we believe that every person has a unique journey and should be able to find and make their own meaning. We have friends of every faith and no faith and we always meet them where they are without imposing any of our religious beliefs on them. The very name “Open Table Nashville” was meant to invoke the vision of an open table where everyone is welcome, where we can all find nourishment and community, and where there is always room to pull up another chair.
OTN is part of Nashville’s Clinical Pastoral Education Partnership and offers chaplaincy residence placements through this program. For more info, visit here.