In 2008 several believing friends in concert with area churches created Church In The Yard: food and a Sunday service for the homeless in the yard of Holy Trinity Episcopal in Downtown Nashville. Out of that effort, Lambscroft Ministries became an official 501c3. The same year, The Upper Room Shelter began by taking in six homeless individuals biweekly at Woodbine Cumberland Presbyterian Church gymnasium. Eventually the program grew to welcome on average as many as 60 to 110 individuals twice a week, where they received a hot meal and a safe place to sleep. The Upper Room Shelter closed its door August 2015 due to the selling of church property. Currently, we are partnering with Downtown Presbyterian Church for a Saturday morning breakfast for the homeless. Lambscroft also established two “Disciple Houses”, occupied by formerly homeless men seeking spiritual study, community and a renewed life.
The three-year dream of opening The Cookery was fulfilled the summer of 2013. The Cookery, in addition to serving coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner and catering to the public, has a greater purpose. In The Cookery kitchen, formerly homeless students are trained and equipped in culinary techniques and food safety in order to prepare them for employment in Nashville’s food industry. “Through all of this God has taught us perseverance, resilience, patience and trust,” says Brett Swayn founder of Lambscroft Ministries.
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The Heart of the Cookery
Brett Swayn was born in Perth, Western Australia. He came to the U.S. in 1991, settling in Austin, Texas, to pursue a promising music career. His search for God began in earnest many years later, and he understood he was called to go to Nashville. So, on March 19, 2002, he left the life in Texas for the call in Tennessee.
What wasn’t foreseen was that Brett was to spend the next four months living on the streets of Nashville, experiencing the heartache, alienation and desperation of homelessness. He calls this period “the hardest, most beautiful time of my life,” because he experienced a closer walk with God and came to understand the sufferings of a marginalized people of America.
Through a series of what he calls “miracles,” he was offered a job at Fleming’s restaurant, where he worked his way to sous chef and traveled around the country training others in culinary arts. At the same time, he felt called to address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the homeless community. Over time he felt drawn to a life of simplicity.
He left his position at Fleming’s, deciding to devote his life to those in need. Brett’s three-year dream of opening The Cookery is here. In addition to serving coffee and luncheon/dinner foods, it is also a training facility. Here Brett and associates will instill culinary crafts to select homeless individuals in order to prepare them for employment in the food industry. “Through all of this, God has taught us perseverance, resilience, patience and trust,” Brett says.
Brett lives in Nashville with his wife Merari Joy Swayn. Together with others, they help manage Lambscroft Ministries and all of its programs.