God has committed to the San Francisco Night Ministry one of the neediest and most poignant “congregations”- the lonely, frightened, confused, discouraged, defeated, anxious, addicted and spiritually lost. And all too often, those whose public suffering is exceeded only by their own private prison.
In a busy and sophisticated city, it is often difficult to see them. Terminally ignored by the successful workaday world, they often find anonymity, appearing only at night. Before long, they simply seem to fall through the cracks of an otherwise caring society.
Since 1964, a group of San Francisco Bay Area congregations, denominational bodies and concerned individuals have attempted to meet the human and spiritual needs of the city through informal, on-street encounters, supplemented by the telephone counseling of trained, committed lay volunteers. Every night of the year, ordained members of the clergy walk city streets from 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM, bringing a measure of compassion and understanding to this diverse group of people through listening and prayer, counseling and referral, and crisis intervention.
Taking a lead from Jesus Christ, who was often found among the “wrong” kind of people, the Night Minister, Pastor Lyle Beckman, and Assistant Night Ministers, meet people wherever they are; in bars, hotels, all-night coffee shops, transportation centers, apartments, or simply on the street. Since human suffering knows no “office hours,” a minister is available whenever there is a need at night when help is hard to find.