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Pastor aids homeless - Odessa American: Religion

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Pastor aids homeless

Initiative has grown into monthly meetings for more than 100

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Posted: Saturday, July 23, 2016 5:00 am

The Rev. Doug Herget has a dual mission. Arriving in Odessa 30 years ago after graduating from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Ind., he worked in the food service and soft drink sales until going into full-time ministry in 2000.

Since then, the 56-year-old native of Edina, Mo., has become as well-known for his advocacy of the homeless as for his work as pastor of Odessa Tabernacle Family Life Center at 2406 Oakwood Dr., which he says are parallel ministries. Herget and his wife Cindy have a daughter.

Noting that his church averages 50 to 60 people at its 10:30 a.m. Sunday services, he said, “We are a Christian, Bible-based interdenominational church.

“I enjoy preaching on Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.’ The homeless have always just been a soft spot for me.”

A lay pastor at Odessa Tabernacle for 10 years before accepting its senior pastorate, the former Coca-Cola regional sales manager began his ministry to the homeless of the Permian Basin 15 years ago, starting with seven men who came for help to a small building behind his church.

Now his 11-year-old non-profit Hope for the Homeless program convenes monthly with 22 different agencies at various locations, usually Slater or Sherwood community centers but June 6 at Ector County Coliseum, to give food, clothing, haircuts and job references to 100 or more of the homeless, 75 percent of whom are men.

“The main thing I’ve learned is that they are just a group of people like you and me,” Herget said. “They all have family situations and problems like normal, everyday people.

“They are very private. They may be in a homeless state for a period of time, but they’re not proud of it. The biggest problem and main reason for most of them is alcohol or substance abuse.”

Herget has learned that Odessa “is a generous community,” he said. “If someone needs help, they can find it.”

Herget and his wife are also volunteer chaplains at Medical Center Hospital.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Valerie Longoria-Bueno said the minister gives the area’s homeless “a sense of belonging and shows them that there are people who truly care.

“Pastor Doug is not about impressing people, he is about serving,” Longoria-Bueno said. “Hope for the Homeless is not about numbers or boasting, it’s about a program that an overwhelming amount of people have benefitted from.”

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