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The Clergy Corner
I was recently invited to join the board of North Kent Community Services. This non-profit agency was founded by the pastors of greater Rockford/Sparta in 1973 to provide for human needs and encourage economic independence in northern Kent County. Their by-laws require that they always have two pastors on their board. After I came to Holy Spirit I was invited to fill one of those seats. It is a pleasure! This organization is led by a dynamic Executive Director, Claire Guisfredi, and their programs are directed by a wonderful social worker, Cherie Elahl. Under their leadership North Kent has developed more resources to help people find a path out of poverty. Every time I interact with Claire and Cherie I learn something. I enjoy learning so it's been a great experience.
Holy Spirit's food pantry is one of six supporting pantries that receive referrals from North Kent. Food pantries proliferated in the 1980s as a temporary form of hunger relief
in response to government cutbacks in food assistance. Institutions developed to coordinate and administer multiple pantries. In our county,
Access of West Michigan coordinates all pantries, identifying a "resource pantry" in each part of the county to help smaller pantries. Food pantry ministry has become part of the way many churches fulfill Christ's teaching to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger and visit those in prison (Matthew 25). North Kent's Cherie Elahl will be meeting with our pantry board in May to talk about possible next steps for our pantry. I plan to be there and look forward to it.
Last Thursday I shared with our vestry some of the highlights of a recent report on food pantries, created by the Michigan Fitness Foundation.
The whole report is available here. A couple highlights I noticed: 1) Holy Spirit is among the few churches which sponsor not only a food pantry, but also a garden to supply fresh produce. Fewer than 1 in 10 pantries across Michigan do this, even though increasing access to fresh produce is a public health priority. 2) Holy Spirit is not that unusual in having a once-a-week distribution. Twenty percent of the pantries surveyed distribute food once a week.
As we look forward to the pantry board's meeting with Cherie I ask your prayers for our food pantry ministry. Please ask God to give us the insight we need to know how best to serve God's people in this place. Ask God to show us our capacity, our potential, and a right path for this ministry.
Thoughts to Ponder
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator* shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
Eucharist will be available on the 1st, 3rd & 5th Sundays of each month.
All other Sundays will be Morning Prayer service.
Sudanese Grace Church's English language worship service and fundraiser will by Sunday, April 23. From 11:30 am to 3 pm, traditional South Sudanese dishes like akop, atulmokic, anjera and more will be sold. Suggested donation is $10 per plate. This food will be available to take home; you may bring your own plate but it is not required. At 1 pm, the people of Sudanese Grace invite friends into fellowship as they celebrate the Holy Eucharist in English.
Gilbert & Sullivan's
Ruddigore: This year, the West Michigan Savoyards are presenting
Ruddigore. A group from our church has gone to the Friday matinee at the Wealthy Street Theatre for a number of years and always enjoyed it. This year the matinee is on Friday, April 28 at 1 pm, and the cost is $10. Sign up sheet on the kiosk; deadline to sign up is Easter Sunday. All welcome.
Appliance recycling: Consumers Energy just launched a free appliance recycling program for working refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and dehumidifiers. Click
HERE for more info.