Like most hair salons, Epiphany Hair & Care was very busy in August prepping for the rush of back-to-school haircuts. Unlike others, however, the salon was just beginning to chart its journey as an ambitious outreach ministry of Epiphany Lutheran Church to serve South City St. Louis.
Upon receiving funding to create a professional salon offering greatly reduced haircuts for men and women, a grand opening in time for “Back to School” felt like a race against the clock, with all sorts of unexpected happenings thrown in for good measure.
While eager to create a welcoming space for all people, especially to help individuals on a tight budget, Epiphany had to deal with many start-up issues from finding licensed stylists to installing the required shampoo basin, water heater, plumbing, and electrical work for hair washing.
Finding the right individual to oversee the direction and daily operation of the salon, lead volunteers, and handle haircut appointments may have proved easier than finding a plumber who could pull required permits, drill through walls, install floor drains, and have the hair-washing station operational for back-to-school time.
“As with any remodeling project, you must be prepared to run into unforeseen obstacles,” says Pastor Tim Staffeld. “But we persevered and we’re so pleased to have made this ministry vision into reality. We’re engaging the community with the tangible love of Jesus.”
Epiphany applied for a $10,000 Lutheran Congregation mini-grant from The Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis to purchase and install equipment for its hair-cutting ministry with a three-fold goal to:
- Demonstrate to the community the tangible love of Jesus.
- Provide a welcoming and hospitable space for a diverse neighborhood.
- Create opportunities to share the Gospel through ongoing relationships.
“We believe Epiphany Hair & Care is a good fit for our church for a variety of reasons. It’s a unique ministry, just like our church. Our church has a strong reputation in our community but needs avenues for people to connect with others outside of worship,” detailed the grant application.
With unanimous support from the church Council and congregation, a team was formed to help the ministry in its early stages before receiving its grant. A successful trial launch event offering free “dry haircuts” from three licensed professionals on a basement stage before last Easter left the team encouraged it was on the right track.
Epiphany Hair & Care plans to offer free haircut events throughout the year. The next event is all set for those with autism (or neurodivergences) who could benefit from modifications. The salon recently received a generous donation of silent clippers in preparation to serve those for whom the buzzing sound of a normal clipper can create anxiety, making a haircut impossible.
Scheduled for 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday Nov. 1 and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday Nov. 5, this event already has received a large initial response.
“We pray that we are able to welcome those whom God has made differently into a welcoming and loving environment to get their haircut,” says Rev. Staffeld. “The salon chair is open for everyone at Epiphany Hair & Care.”