DECATUR – God's Shelter of Love, one of the city's oldest homeless ministries, may have a new director, but that doesn't mean everything will change.
The Rev. Ed Bacon, who took over for longtime volunteer administrator Ardena Hunter on Aug. 1, said the shelter will continue to focus on building quality relationships with the people it serves and doing so without government funding.
“God has blessed the shelter since it opened in 1991, and we believe it will stay open through the generosity of Christians in the community,” Bacon said.
A top priority, however, is to come up with enough money to make Bacon a full-time director the first part of 2015.
“It's a big job,” said Harold Batthauer, president of the ministry's board. “We are fortunate to get someone who's extremely talented and has the right background for this work.”
Bacon plans to attend monthly meetings of Decatur-Macon County Homeless Council Continuum of Care Advisory Committee and add to the ministry's community partners.
“It's important to have strong relationships with other leaders who are working toward the same thing,” Bacon said.
Bacon, 48, is a graduate of Rochester High School and has spent 27 years as a church pastor, the last five at Mount Zion Christian Church.
He has master's degrees in human service counseling from Illinois State University and in pastoral care and counseling from Lincoln Christian Seminary.
Bacon most recently served churches in Oakland and Wapella but has also had inner city pastorates in Gary, Ind., and Joliet.
“I saw myself working with the poor after graduating from ISU, but God always seemed to lead me into a local church ministry, until He opened this door,” he said. “This gives me an opportunity to invest part of my life in something I feel passionate about.”
Bacon's wife, Susan, manages Blessingdales thrift shop, an arm of the ministry, and both husband and wife report directly to the board of God's Shelter of Love.
The Bacons have two children, Hannah, 17, and Jackson, 14, and both are students at Mount Zion High School.