(from the UCC)
A very common mission outreach project for many churches is that of either a food pantry or a soup kitchen. This is the story of how one church reached out to the community in which they are located to share Christ by way of food to those who needed both spiritual and nutritional nourishment.
Victory Christian United Church of Christ, Petersburg, VA is a church with approximately 60 members and is only six years old. When the church was formed, the founding pastor and members knew that they wanted to make an impact in the community. Therefore, they started this project and it has grown each year. With only a hand full of members and little money they decide that they would share their blessings with those in need during the holidays. They gathered in a home and brought food and prepared baskets that were given to families so that they could have a holiday meal. Over the last five years, the project has expanded. Their prayer is that they will continue to be a ray of sunshine into the lives of those who are less fortunate. A side effect of this is that the members have grown spiritually and developed a strong sense of evangelism.
In the beginning it was just a few folks or families stopping by from time to time needing food assistance. A small number of members, who took this on as their evangelistic outreach, would quickly pool resources to provide emergency food. Soon the need became more than what these members could accommodate. When the entire congregation was apprized of the situation, they immediately and unanimously decided that the ministry should be expanded to an ongoing food pantry. They would continue, however, to blessing as many families as possible during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
To insure that all who came to Victory Christian's door for assistance felt welcomed and not be embarrassed, the faith community addressed them as guests and welcomed them into their home. The guests were given a bag of food to take with them. While there, they were offered light refreshments and plenty of conversation. What a blessing it was to see a four-year old give a drink to a homeless woman or to experience a teenager having a conversation with a homeless man and to hear them laughing together.
Again we realized that we were unable to assist all who visited and that we had to expand and grow this ministry to accommodate more people. As a result of this need and rapid growth we connected with the Central Virginia Food Bank. We collaborated with two major food chains and now receive food every Wednesday from them. We distribute this food to the homeless in our community . They come from the North, South, East and West. As of January 26th 2005, over 125 individuals and many families have been blessed.
We are gradually and occasionally adding a clothes closet. Each of our guests is able to shop, free of charge of course, for the clothes they need. We accept donations to stock the clothes closet.
But we couldn't stop there. Once a month we now serve an assisted-living residential house – 45 families a meal.
For the last three Thanksgivings our church has opened its doors from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a sit-down dinner for the homeless. In 2004 we served, in our dining room, over 100 homeless hungry individuals. This ministry has awarded our youth and college kids who are home on Thanksgiving break an opportunity to reach out and touch someone. Not only do we serve our guests but we turn our stoves off, bring our friends and families and all sit down at the church for a splendid holiday gathering. We sing, serve, praise, pray and minister to those who otherwise might be alone or would not have an opportunity for a hot dinner.
Victory Christian lives out the scripture found in Matthew 4:4, "Man cannot live by bread alone but by every Word of the Lord." Those desiring prayer we pray for, many have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as a result of what is being done through this ministry. Some have come to worship with us on Sunday mornings because they knew they would be welcomed and we had first attended to their physical needs.
This is a ministry not to gain members, but to show Christ in action. No matter what your status in life, Almighty God will supply your needs.
Victory Christian United Church of Christ
32 East Wythe Street
Petersburg, VA 23804
Rev. Rose Wright-Scott, Senior Pastor
Worship service is at 10:00 AM.
Sunday School for all ages 9:15 AM