Jerry Herships is an ordained minister who believes church can happen anywhere, even in the middle of a park in Colorado.
Herships’s church, Afterhours, is located in Denver, Colorado, with no brick and mortar structure to tie him down, Herships takes his message to people on the streets, in city parks, and in several bars around the city. Afterhours helps feed 500-600 poor and homeless people every week and has served over 50,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches since July 2011.
You can even find Herships giving communion in the middle of a park in the middle of winter, and it is because of his out-of-the-ordinary approach that he has been named TPE Hero of the Month for October 2013.
“Heroes are people who go above and beyond and in this case Jerry is indeed a hero”, said Trish Brown, publisher of TPEPost.com and founder of TippingPointEducation.com, a national education foundation that supports education and workforce development efforts to sustain and grow the middle class. “His work with the homeless and everyday people seeking to find their way spiritually is touching hundreds, if not thousands of hearts each year. He’s a hero in many regards, but mostly because he found an unconventional way to make a difference and it’s working big time.”
“We don’t have a mission statement,” explained Herships, “but if we did it would be simple. Love God. Love people.” From that simple message, Herships has created a community support network for those less fortunate, but he is slow to take credit for the success of Afterhours. Bar space is donated, allowing them to hold services in four different locations throughout the city.
During the day, working out of his mobile office, also known as a Jetta, Herships coordinates with several groups to bring sandwiches and communion to people in Civic Center Park. Each day is sponsored by a different group that provides meals, water and volunteers to assist with distribution. This allows Afterhours to provide services seven days a week. Lunch sponsors include several other churches, a community group, and several local businesses.
Using unusual advertising methods such as small posters in restrooms, fliers handed out in bars, drink coasters, word of mouth, and an email address that is easy to remember (firstname.lastname@example.org) Herships draws in very diverse crowds. His flock consists of homeless people and others from all walks of life. They meet regularly for worship on Mondays and daily at lunchtime in Civic Center Park for food, water, communion and socks.
When determining how best to serve the homeless of Denver, Herships asked people what they needed and what they felt was important and they responded by requesting clean socks. “Socks are like gold”, said Herships. “There are people who will pass up food for clean socks.” Afterhours provides other comfort items, such as clothing, sleeping bags and manages a diaper ministry that provides diapers for single parents. “Providing people what they need most is one of the main goals of Afterhours. We want to see people off the street. We want to see people living healthy lives. But until they can, we need to help them be as comfortable as we can where they’re at right now.”
Herships wasn’t always a man with such a grand mission. He was a bartender, comedian and mall Santa before he heard the call of the ministry. His life was going well; he was steadily employed, had done a bit of acting, and was making a decent living in Los Angeles, but it wasn’t quite right. Herships moved to Florida with his wife, Laura, and their son Hudson. They moved to Denver in 2005, where Herships attended Iliff School of Theology, receiving his Master of Divinity in 2007. Jerry served at St. Andrew United Methodist Church from 2005 – 2011, starting as an intern and ending as Associate Pastor. In July 2011, he was appointed by the Bishop to plant a new church, Afterhours Denver, in the metro area of Denver to focus on the poor and unchurched.
To learn more about Jerry Herships and the After Hours, visit www.afterhoursdenver.org.