Thursday, November 19, 2009

Taking a bite out of hunger

I'm proud of my church. The people of Christ Episcopal Church know Jesus and make his love known through their service.

Last night, the youth group, together with our young adults group sponsored the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. The parish hall was packed with people. According to Youth Minister Donya Newport, 120 people were served heaping, steaming plates of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Yum, it was good.

Of the 120, 80 or more were neighbors from around the church, where poverty is abundant. Our guests are among the 49 million Americans who are hungry today, a statistic reported this week by the New York Times.

In the midst of this Great Recession, the number of hungry Americans, including children, is rising. Hunger in America is at its highest in 14 years.

However, Christ Episcopal Church, along with many other churches in Springfield are heeding Jesus' command: we're feeding the hungry.

Last night's Community Thanksgiving Dinner was one way. At Christ Church, we're also filling grocery sacks each week of food for Crosslines, the Council of Churches' ministry to the hungry.

(Crosslines is mounting a special appeal right now. If you contribute money to the council's ministry, your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $40,000, thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. Please join me in making a Thanksgiving gift to Crosslines this year.)

With the vestry's enthusiastic support--and personal commitment of many vestry members to take part--Christ Church will participate in the Kids Against Hunger ministry, starting in January. Church volunteers will gather at the ministry's warehouse one Saturday a month and fill bags with special protein meals and other items, which will then be distributed to the hungry locally and globally.

Moreover, church members volunteer weekly at the Well of Life Ministry, which serves as an emergency food pantry downtown. Other volunteers fill bags with food and distribute them to the hungry through Crosslines. And the staff regularly gives out sack lunches to the hungry who come to the church seeking food. These lunches are prepared by our Outreach Committee.

I'm proud of the people of Christ church for the many ways they show compassion to the hungry. They're a living example of the life of service that Jesus lived and goes on living through us.

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