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Downtown church connects with community

January 5, 2012 No Comment

The Outreach Ministry Committee at Historic St. Paul’s in Kitchener prepares warm winter clothing for neighbours in need.

“Why are you doing this for us?” Members of Historic St. Paul’s (Kitchener, Ont.) who volunteer at its new outreach often hear and joyfully answer that question as they offer free food and winter clothing to people affected by poverty. 

Recently the downtown congregation has seen an increase in visits from neighbours desperate for assistance. In response it set aside Monday mornings, called for volunteers and donations, and gathered information about running a weekly outreach program. The “Community Cupboard” opened its doors last January 24. Members and friends support this ministry with donations of food, warm clothing, and money to buy items on sale.

Volunteers greet guests with hot coffee and cookies, and help them select needed clothing and food items. Christian resources, such as topical booklets from Lutheran Hour Ministries, are freely available to anyone interested.

Admittedly stepping outside their comfort zone, volunteers find great blessing in getting to know these neighbours whom we’re often tempted to avoid. Most guests express their gratitude and can’t get over the fact that the church wants to help them.

Here is where social service programs become wonderful opportunities for Christian witness, says Parish Assistant Tony Marchand, “Building relationships with the community is of most importance. Once these relationships are formed, trust is gained. Walls fall down, hardened hearts break open, and people are open for the Holy Spirit to do His work.”

While support for the program has been enthusiastic, the congregation was overwhelmed by the number of people accessing it. Between January and April it served more than 400 people. A scaled-down “Outdoor Café” began in May, offering refreshments each week and sometimes fresh produce from members’ gardens.

The congregation hopes to offer a weekly food pantry year-round. In sharing the abundance of God’s material gifts, we receive opportunities to share His greatest gift—the world’s Saviour, Jesus Christ.

If you wish to donate or want to know more about this downtown outreach, please visit Historic St. Paul’s website or contact Tony or Kathy at (519) 745-4891.

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