Who We Are

Providing help and hope for homeless people in Hampton Roads for more than 130 years

A Home for Help and Hope

For more than 130 years The Union Mission Ministries has compassionately served men, women, and children without a home and with nowhere else to turn.

The Union Mission was founded in 1892 by a group of Methodist businessmen who had a vision to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of those who were poor or homeless. From that vision, the original Union Mission opened its doors, and to this day continues to provide help and hope for homeless people in our community.

In 1956, Rev. Theodore A. Bashford, became our Executive Director. For more than 50 years, “Brother Ted” led and guided The Union Mission, strengthening our relationships with local churches and city officials and expanding our outreach capacity.

His daughter Linda Bashford Vaughan succeeded him as Executive Director after he passed away in October 2008. Having worked alongside with her father for years, Mrs. Vaughan ran the day-to-day operations until February 2016. She now serves as Executive Director Emeritus.

Rev. John W. Gray, Jr., our current Executive Director, served under both Rev. Bashford and Mrs. Vaughan.

Over the years, the Men’s and Women’s Shelters moved five times until 2009 when a permanent campus was established on Virginia Beach Blvd. in Norfolk. The Union Mission Ministries have included numerous resources for and outreaches to the South Hampton Roads, Virginia community. As our region’s needs have changed, so have The Union Mission’s ministries. We continue to look for the most effective ways to share the love of Christ with those in need and to serve those experiencing homelessness in our community.

Read more about The Union Mission’s History.

Caring Like Christ: The Union Mission Leadership and Staff

   Rev. John Gray, Jr., Executive Director

John Gray has deep roots in Coastal Virginia and with The Union Mission. Born in Portsmouth, he was raised at the ministry’s Hope Haven Children’s Home in rural Virginia Beach, where he came to faith in Christ at the age of 7. For many summers he served as a counselor at Camp Hope Haven.

Serving in a church and an urban outreach ministry while in seminary gave John a heart for inner-city service, and he joined the Mission staff in 1991. In 2009 he assumed the role of Associate Director, running the day-to-day operations of Norfolk’s largest homeless shelter, and in 2016 he was named Executive Director of The Union Mission Ministries.

John holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Old Dominion University and a master’s degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has two grown children, Abigail and Joshua, and is married to Melissa.

Meet our Staff and Board of Directors

Our Vision

We are dedicated to serving God by serving the most vulnerable people in our community: the homeless.


Our Core Values

GLORIFY GOD – Reflect Christ in all of our actions and share the Gospel with each person we serve.

INTEGRITY – Deliver services to the poor and homeless with the highest levels of honesty and virtue by investing in their emotional, physical, and spiritual development.

STEWARDSHIP – Wisely invest our time, talents, and the resources entrusted to us by providing the utmost care at a reasonable cost for optimal results.

RESTORATION – Be a testament to our community of how it cares for the most vulnerable of its citizens.


1892 Mission Statement

To aid the poor and needy; to reform the erring; to help those that are out of the way; to feed the hungry; to shelter the homeless; to preach the gospel; and to rescue the perishing.


Doctrinal Statement

WE BELIEVE … the Bible is the literal, verbal, and inspired Word of God. (Isa. 8:20, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, 1 Thess. 5:21)

WE BELIEVE … there is one God eternally existent in three persons:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (John 4:24, John 10:30, Ex. 15:11, Ps. 83:18, Matt. 28:19, Eph. 2:18)

WE BELIEVE … in the Deity of Christ; His virgin birth, His shed blood for atonement, His bodily resurrection, His ascension, and His personal pre-millennial return to establish His kingdom on Earth. (Heb. 1:8, John 1:1-3, Luke 1:26-35, John 1:7, Matt. 28:1-6, Mark 16:19, Matt. 24:27-30)

WE BELIEVE … all are sinners by nature and are lost. Salvation through Jesus Christ is the only remedy for this condition. We are saved through faith alone in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. (Isa. 53:6, Rom. 3:23, Eph. 2:1-3, John 14:6, Eph. 2:8-10)

WE BELIEVE … the hope and promise of every believer is to be in the presence of the Lord immediately upon death or at the gathering of believers at the second coming of Christ, ultimately living in glorified bodies in heaven with Him. (1 Thess. 4:13-18, Rev. 21:1-22:5)

WE BELIEVE … Satan is real and an enemy of God and His people. We also believe that one day he will be judged and eternally condemned in the lake of fire also called Hell. Further, we believe all who die having rejected the offer of salvation will suffer eternal conscious punishment in Hell. (Rev. 12:10, 20:1-3, John 3:18, 36, Rev. 20-11-15)

WE BELIEVE … the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, makes believers children of God through a new birth, assuring them of Heaven, and that His indwelling enables them to live godly lives. (John 16:8-11, 1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19-20, 2 Cor. 3:18, Gal. 2:20)

WE BELIEVE … the New Testament Church is an organized body of baptized believers practicing scriptural ordinances and are actively engaged in fulfilling The Great Commission. (Matt. 28:19-20, Acts 2:41-42, 1 Tim. 3)

Statement on Racial Injustice

The Board of Directors and staff of The Union Mission are grieving the tragic death of George Floyd by those who took an oath to protect and serve. As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe that the Scriptures clearly teach that all people, no matter their color or ethnicity, are created in the image of God. There is dignity to each life that this cruel event and many others have served to undermine.

Our mission is to share the transformative Love of Jesus Christ with all people. We are disturbed by the continuation of racial violence and heartless treatment of others.  Together we will examine our Ministry conduct for ways that we may have perpetuated discrimination and hatred by our actions, our inactions, or our indifference—and we will seek to do better, holding each other accountable as brothers and sisters in Christ.

As believers and defenders of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we stand opposed to the great evils of racism, discrimination, injustice, and violence against all people, but especially against the poor and defenseless.

Together we stand with our African American brothers and sisters and with all who have been deeply wounded by these events and other continuing injustices.

Challenged by the Gospel, we are resolved to work to bring about racial equity, harmony, and unity for the glory of God.

— March 2021


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