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Sherrie Laurie in front of Downtown Hope Center

What Happened When the Government Threatened an Overnight Women’s Shelter

February 27, 2020

“Why in the world am I here?” Sherrie Laurie asked herself.

Newly retired from two decades as a FedEx pilot, Sherrie had just signed on as a volunteer at Downtown Soup Kitchen in Anchorage, Alaska. But she felt overwhelmed as she faced the needs of those who came from the streets, seeking a meal and a shower.

Then a zeal for the work took hold. Eventually, Sherrie became director of the Christian nonprofit. Not long after, the ministry grew to include an overnight shelter for abused women. Thirty women sought refuge there at first, safe from predators on the streets and from dangers at home. That number quickly grew to 50.

One cold Friday night, an incident put this safe haven at risk.

A man came to the door, demanding admission. He was drunk, bleeding, and dressed in a pink nightgown. He wanted to stay in the shelter, with the women.

This wasn’t an option. The women in the room – many of them victims of sexual assault – were already moving as far away from the man as possible. None of them were comfortable with the thought of a man sleeping just a few feet away.

Sherrie called for a cab to take the man to the hospital, where his injury could be treated. He seemed amenable to that, and even called her “Mother Teresa.”

But later the ministry (now commonly referred to as Downtown Hope Center) was sued for sex and gender identity discrimination. City officials demanded that the Center open its women’s shelter to men and set aside its Christian beliefs.

Alliance Defending Freedom came to Downtown Hope Center’s defense.


You can learn more about Sherrie’s story in the February edition of Faith & Justice.


In this issue, you’ll also read how:

  • ADF International is tackling the growing demand for euthanasia;
  • A forest ranger became an ADF attorney; and
  • Joni Eareckson Tada finds “splashovers of heaven” in suffering.

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