When Dan and Rachel Williamson, busy parents of three, took over the Room In The Inn program at Franklin First United Methodist Church five years ago, they committed to making hospitality a family endeavor. Rachel says, “The kids have helped with every aspect of Room In The Inn from volunteer recruitment, cooking, riding on the bus, making beds, and staying the night. We have also involved them in learning about the larger picture of homelessness in Nashville and around the country.”
Franklin First UMC regularly hosts groups of men, women, and families with children. The Williamsons have taken the lead in their congregation’s focus on developing meaningful relationships with their guests. “There is a story waiting to be told inside each person who walks through our church doors.”
One of the common threads Dan and Rachel heard in the stories of their Room In The Inn guests was participation in the foster care system. Many of these guests went through foster care themselves, had kids currently in the foster care system, or lived in fear of having their children removed from their care. The Williamsons saw an opportunity to make a difference and perhaps change someone’s story before it was written. After four years of praying, learning, and asking a lot of questions, Dan, Rachel, and their kids opened the doors of their home to become a foster family in December 2017.
“Our involvement in Room In The Inn and being a foster care family stem from the non-judgmental view of our kids: We have room, therefore we should share. They understand this basic principle of the gospel so much better than we do.”