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After an eventful 14 years of in Shelby County that has including be the pastor at one church, being instrumental in a leadership role of another and opening a homeless shelter, Lee Bean will be giving all that up next month.
Bean, 40, is moving back to Birmingham, Ala., with his wife, Londi, who is a teller for Commonwealth Bank and Trust, and three children.
“It’s just time,” he said. “We’ve been gone from Alabama for fourteen years. My wife’s mother is starting to have a few health issues, and our kids are getting to the age where, if we’re going to make a move like this – we’ve got a 12-year old, a 10-year old and a 6-year old – before they get older and really make good friends, it’s just time to do it.”
Bean said he and the family will leave at the end of May, giving his children time to finish the school year.
A graduate of Boyce College and Southern Seminary in Louisville, Bean was youth pastor in Birmingham at Deer Foot Baptist Church and an associate pastor at Pleasant Ridge Baptist in Indiana, before landing in Shelby County as pastor at Dover Baptist Church in 2003.
In 2009, Bean opened the Open Door of Hope men’s shelter, which quickly grew and within two years moved to larger location on 8th.
That’s when he left Dover Baptist to devote himself full-time to the shelter as its executive director, he said.
“We had opened it in 2009 on a volunteer basis, and we had raised enough money to pay me by 2011,” he said.
The shelter, he said, will continue after he leaves.
“We’ve already got a replacement,” he said. “His name is Jon Walker. He was born and raised in Shelbyville; I met him through Christ Community Church. He is going to continue the ministry”
Walker, the former co-owner of Cutting Edge Lawn and Landscape, will replace Bean at the helm of the shelter.
“He’s going to continue the ministry,” Bean said.
The shelter houses 12 men at capacity, and additional four more in its transitional housing unit upstairs. Currently there are six men living there along with Tommy Chin, a former Dover Baptist member who is the live in supervisor.
“He does a great job; he’s been with us since we opened,” Bean said.
A lasting legacy
Along with the Open Door of Hope, Bean’s unique way of working and sharing his ministry has left an indelible mark on Shelby County.
He has been an instrumental leader in helping form Christ Community Church, which operates with a greater focus on helping in the community. He has served a leader and teaching pastor as the church has grown from meeting in the gym at Southside Elementary to its new location in Governor’s Square, which opened last week.
And a fundraiser he started to raise awareness and money for the shelter has become an annual event.
Each September Bean has raised money by charging $30 to allow supporters to sleep in a cardboard box in the parking lot of the Shelby County Public Library, which is located next to his shelter.
In addition to raising money for the shelter, the event also raises awareness of the plight of the homeless, something that Bean said will probably continue after he leaves.
“I’d like to continue to work with the homeless [in Alabama] and also do some chaplain work, maybe a hospice chaplain, maybe something like that,” he said.
When asked if he would be considering opening a homeless shelter when he gets back home to Alabama, Bean grinned ruefully, saying, “No, I promised my wife I would not start another ministry- I will work for one that already exists.”