Simply Ministry – Expansive Reach

Jul 31, 2023

By Pete Lopez, St John Lutheran Church, Angleton

This simple door with the faceplate “Classroom 2” is found at St John Lutheran Church in Angleton. But there is no longer a classroom as the faceplate states. Truthfully, Classroom 2 has not had a regular class in years; it had slowly become storage space for unused VBS material. Today, if you open this door, you will be very surprised as to what is in there. It is my honor to share the good news about what’s behind the door, the people who enter this room, and the goal they share.

About 8 to 10 months ago, a group of volunteers from multiple Angleton churches gathered to share stories of food insecurity prevalent in the Coastal Bay Conference. Then, they set a goal to get more food out to the community. This group of volunteers named themselves the “Friends of the Community Food Pantry.” It is the latest iteration of a Food Pantry that began in the 1980’s.  The group is made of volunteers from Holy Comforter Episcopal, Most Holy Trinity Catholic, United Methodist, First Presbyterian, St. John Lutheran, and other churches located in Angleton.

Let’s go back to the door to Classroom 2. You will find shelf-stable food that is gathered for eventual distribution on the first Monday of every month. On that first Monday, volunteers arrive at St. John Lutheran at 9am and then start filling bags that are numbered “1,” “2,” or “3.” Each bag contains a variety of non-perishable foods. In addition, donations given to the FCFP allow for purchase of perishable food staples. Richard K. has been the point person in this endeavor. He coordinates the menu in each bag to better utilize the food resources and creates a Master List of what items will go into the bags. Because of the variables from week to week, the contents of the bags change. Still, Richard is very skilled at shopping to get bulk items ordered from Dollar Tree, getting clearance baked goods from Kroger, and taking advantage of sales. He often has to “raid” the stores in nearby towns because more food is needed.

Tables are set up under St. John’s portico to hold the pre-packed bags. More tables have ice chests that keep refrigerated items cool such as tubes of ground beef or chicken, boxes of 1lb cheese bricks, or shredded cheese, while another table holds bread products, potatoes, and other “extras.” Distribution begins at 10am and ends at noon. The cars start getting in line at 8am and the flow of cars remains consistent until noon. We ask how many people are in the household and then we use a formula created for that week. Generally, 2-6 people in the household gets bags 1, 2, & 3; add bread, potatoes, 1 meat, and 1 cheese. If there are over 6 people in the household, the number of bags, meat, and cheese are increased to meet the need.

In a time of economic uncertainty and food insecurity, people truly appreciate the efforts of these local churches. I am honored to witness how we support each other in this community-wide ministry. Additionally, one of our neighbors, Holy Comforter Episcopal, has a ministry that makes meals for shut-ins; many of the FCFP volunteers cook entrées or deliver to shut-ins. The FCFP has learned that in Angleton, it is best when we cooperate and help each other if we want to accomplish vital ministry in our community.

This good thing that is happening at St. John could not happen without the help of local churches and a host of volunteers, who show up and work hard to bag the food and load it into vehicles. We don’t take names and addresses; we don’t gather information nor do we drop literature into bags. It is a simple act of love that resonates loudly. And word of mouth has shared the good news. On June 5, over 280 people received food because of the efforts of these churches and volunteers.

Deuteronomy 15:11 states: “Since there will never cease to be some need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’” We don’t have the power to raise the dead, cleanse lepers, or cast out demons, but we know we have the power to try and be a stronghold to the poor, a shade from the heat and love them as we have been loved. In bearing one another’s burdens, God does the transforming.