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Our Story

Our Story

We're proud to be one of the top five oldest gospel rescue missions in the U.S.
Founded by Steve P. Holcombe, a converted riverboat gambler and double murderer, Louisville Rescue Mission began in a small room near City Hall where free meals and biblical counseling were offered to homeless and hurting people in our city. From the very beginning, we have been devoted to breaking the cycles of poverty and addiction with the gospel.

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 is gifted 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 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

The Long Run Baptist Association votes to reestablish Jefferson Street Baptist Center as an independent 501c3. Jefferson Street Baptist Center establishes its own board of directors and bylaws. The Long Run Baptist Association continues to play a central role in the organization – approving of board members, making significant financial gifts, and regularly promoting the Mission’s work among its members.

2000

The sanctuary and classrooms are converted into 25 simple, overnight living quarters for men.

2001

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Mission expands its facility to create 11 permanent supportive housing units for dually diagnosed men - that is, men with a history of 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% of its budget at the time) to reclaim its commitment to proclaimling the gospel 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 difficult financial season in 70 years, the year concludes with the Mission doubling its previous fundraising record. For the first time in its history, the Mission raises more than $1 million to care for the homeless and hurting. 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, a collective of approximately 300 gospel-centered organizations in North America. The Mission breaks ground on a $175,000 renovation to its Emergency Day Shelter restroom and laundry facilities. The residential LifeChange program serves more people than ever since the severance of government funding in 2009.

2014

In September, Jefferson Street Baptist Center becomes Louisville Rescue Mission.

2015

Louisville Rescue Mission establishes The Holcombe Mercy Ministry Award to honor an individual or company each year who has made a substantial impact on the Mission.

2016

The Mission earns the highly-coveted accreditation with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

2017

In March, Louisville Rescue Mission opens Thrift 'n' Thrive, its first social enterprise. Over the course of the summer, the Mission also begins offering homeless prevention services at a new, second campus just across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

2018

Stay tuned!