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Our History

Our History

Louisville Rescue Mission (LRM) is one of the oldest homeless rescue missions in the United States.

Founded by Steve P. Holcombe, a converted riverboat gambler and double murderer, the Mission began in a small room near City Hall where free meals and biblical counseling were offered to our city’s homeless and hurting citizens. From the beginning, we have been devoted to breaking the cycle of addiction and poverty with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1881
Steve P. Holcombe founds The Holcombe Mission. Each day, people come to the Mission for a meal and to hear Holcombe teach from the Bible.

1885
The Mission receives the gift of an old mansion from the City of Louisville. The Mission relocates and expands its ministries to care for men, women and children with overnight facilities.

1886
The Holcombe Mission becomes Union Gospel Mission.

1887
Anna Bryan is invited by Union Gospel Mission to create Louisville’s first free public kindergarten.

1943
The Mission almost goes bankrupt. The Long Run Association of Baptists intervenes to protect the Mission from closing.

1944
Union Gospel Mission officially becomes Central Baptist Mission.

1964
Central Baptist Mission is renamed Jefferson Street Baptist Center after it merges with two church congregations and relocates to its current location at 733 East Jefferson Street. The Mission shifts away from being an overnight housing facility and begins to focus on daytime programs, including kids’ camps, senior activities and a daytime soup kitchen. The building is designed primarily as a church with a sanctuary, Sunday school rooms and a fellowship hall. However, minimal housing is built at this time.

1996
The church congregation moves out of the Mission. The Mission returns to being a parachurch organization that focuses exclusively on caring for the homeless and hurting.

1997
Long Run Baptist Association votes to reestablish Jefferson Street Baptist Center as an independent 501(C)(3). JSBC establishes its own Board of Directors and bylaws. Long Run Baptist Association continues to play a central role in the organization – providing approval of Board Members, major financial contributions and regular promotion of the Mission’s work among its members.

2000
The sanctuary and classrooms are converted into simple, overnight living quarters for men. Twenty-five rooms are created.

2001
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Mission builds an expansion on its building that creates 11 permanent supportive housing units for dually diagnosed men — men with a history of substance addiction and a diagnosed mental illness or other disability.

2009
In the middle of the 2009 financial crisis, the Mission votes to sever ties with approximately $90,000 in government funding (approximately 19 percent of its budget at the time) to reclaim its commitment to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed through its programs. Due to transitional residents being previously supplied by federal agencies, rooms begin to empty — soon reaching an all-time low.

2012
Although the Mission experiences its most financially difficult season in seventy years, the year concludes with the Mission doubling its previous largest annual revenue to date. For the first time in its history — thanks to consistent donors, several major donors and a generous bequest — the Mission raises over $1 million during its calendar year to care for the homeless. The Mission develops a long-term strategic plan, which includes better programs, staffing, financial systems, fundraising methods and infrastructure.

2013
The Mission joins the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions — an association of 276 Rescue Missions in the U.S. and Canada. The Mission breaks ground on a $175,000 renovation to its Day Shelter restroom and laundry facilities. The LifeChange residential recovery ministry sees the highest number of program participants since the severance of government funding in 2009. The number of donors supporting the Mission’s work also reaches a record high.

2014
In September 2014, Jefferson Street Baptist Center officially becomes Louisville Rescue Mission (LRM).