MANKATO — It’s a place to go to get out of the cold. It’s a place to see a friendly place. It’s a place where, if only for a few hours, you can watch a little television, grab a doughnut and, if you’re lucky, make a few friends.
Since early January, the doors at Centenary United Methodist Church have opened weekdays from 8-10 a.m. to anyone who wants to come in.
To those who come, there are tables to sit at. Food to feed upon. Coffee to drink. And a host of friendly souls.
The hours of operation, by the way, are no accident.
It opens up at 8 a.m. because that’s when the people using the Salvation Army’s men’s shelter must vacate the premises. Church member Joe Farnham said their goal was to give people with no place to go a place for gathering, staying warm and seeing friendly faces.
“I have met more people down on their luck, and they’re just nice people,” Farnham said. “And they can quote more Scripture to me than anybody in our church.”
Since opening Jan. 2, Farnham says they’ve had anywhere from 10 to 35 people in the church.
One of them is Paul Teigen, originally from Jackson but who has resided in Mankato for several years. Teigen is homeless, so after leaving the men’s shelter, he comes to the church. At first he simply came for the warmth and food. Eventually, he was tapped to volunteer for the program.
He said he likes to come to the church each morning because of the variety of people he meets.
“It fills my mornings,” he said. “It gives me an opportunity to do some different things, meet new people.”
The church offers coffee and juice, doughnuts, fruit, oatmeal and some home-baked items.