Isaiah 58 Ministries is Church … and Community
By the Rev. Brenda Booth, executive director. Reprinted from the Isaiah 58 Ministries website blog. Isaiah 58 Ministries is based in South St. Louis, Mo.
Every Friday morning around 9 a.m., people begin to gather on the back parking pad at 2149 South Grand Blvd. in St. Louis. Tables are set out, volunteers arrive, and soon, our van and truck pull in filled with donated food from local grocery stores.
Many of the guests assist with unloading the vehicles, weighing each box of food, and setting it on the tables to be sorted. Others sit in clusters along the alley or in our sitting area, talking and laughing and catching up with one another. There are immigrants and refugees who struggle with the English language, and others willing to interpret and help with communication. During this time of gathering, guests and volunteers are also encouraged to visit our hospitality table where drinks and homemade baked goods are offered — where guests and volunteers break bread together.
And as the food is unloaded and sorted by the staff and volunteers, we begin the process of checking in guests, welcoming them by name and orienting first-time visitors to the day’s procedures.
After a time of sharing announcements, recognizing birthdays, and offering a prayer of gratitude, guests are invited to shop the day’s fresh food selections that include frozen meat, deli items, fresh produce, bakery goods, and bread.
It is loud. It is sometimes chaotic. And it is COMMUNITY.
IT IS CHURCH …
It is indeed what Jesus intended community to look like — a time of gathering people from all walks of life, helping one another, working together, and building relationships that are meaningful and life-changing.
So, while Isaiah 58 Ministries offers food to nourish the body, we also offer love, compassion, and a sense of dignity and hope that nourishes the soul. We offer church.
We are community as God intended it to be!
This year we are celebrating 50 years of nourishing community at Isaiah 58 Ministries!
For 50 years our ministry has united with churches, organizations, and individuals throughout the region to serve our neighbors through our food ministry and other special programming. And we are committed to serving our community for the next 50 years!
These past two years have been especially difficult for us as we have been challenged to adapt to revised procedures while continuing to meet the needs of our guests during the COVID pandemic.
In addition, this year our nation is facing inflation rates unheard of in over 40 years. This impacts our guests who are already struggling to make ends meet, as well as our own ministry as the costs of providing our services continue to skyrocket.
While we struggle with higher ministry expenses, we are also experiencing record numbers of visits to our food pantry. In the first half of 2022, 17 percent of our guests were first-time visitors. Our resources are indeed stretched thin.
Yet, even as the need for assistance continues to rise, Isaiah 58 Ministries is here to offer nourishment of both body and spirit.
While we celebrate the re-opening of our ministry to inside services, we acknowledge that we would not be able to offer the services we do without the backing of so many supporters. With generous donations we completed our building renovations, creating an inviting space for our guests to shop for food that meets the needs of their family. We reopened our building and with joy welcomed guests into the new space.
Our supporters are the key to our success! We can be confident that our food pantry remains stocked with quality, nutrient-rich food for our guests and our ministry remains an essential part of our community, nourishing others with food, love, and hope. … Join us as we continue to feed the hungry in South St. Louis City, building community and being repairers of the breach for our guests, volunteers, and neighbors.
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