Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thy Neighbor

“Hospitality” – most often associated with hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions – is one word an Austin church takes very seriously.

It’s no surprise that the congregation of St. David’s Episcopal Church, a lovely and looming mid-1800s house of worship located in the heart of downtown at the corner of Seventh & Trinity Streets, takes its role in providing hospitality to heart: There are 29 Bible verses on the topic, after all.

“Our first job is hospitality,” says Doug Bell, a civil engineer and District 6 resident, of the mission behind Trinity Center, the homeless service center founded by Bell and wife Diane  in 1999 as a Sunday mass and meal offered to local neighbors living on the streets. From those first services, the center grew into a six-day-a-week operation offering breakfast, coffee, computer lab access, reading glasses, prescription medication assistance, video and traditional phone service, mail slots, case management, and access to other service providers to over 100 folks a day.

Due to their proximity, the Trinity Center also collaborates with nearby service providers for projects like Art on the Streets and the Challenger newspaper, providing outlet, access, and agency to their clients, furthering the intended mission to serve the “spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of people experiencing homelessness and poverty in Austin.”

This year, Doug & Diane Bell received one of the center’s Pat Hazel Awards, named for a UT law professor who became an Episcopal priest and loved the parish’s homeless neighbors unconditionally. The award was presented at the center’s Barbara Jordan Celebration & Cocktail Hour, an annual hat-tip to social justice warrior and Texas’ first African American elected to the state Senate (after Reconstruction) and first Southern African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Congratulations to Doug and Diana on being honored for all their hard work, not just in founding the Trinity Center but in helping Austin’s most ignored neighbors.  They truly represent the best of Austin and District 6” said Council Member Flannigan.

The celebration took place in the gorgeous Bethel Hall at St. David’s Church and featured church music director David Stevens on piano and an art auction.