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Food Pantry or Soup Kitchen
Three out of four Seventh-day Adventist churches in the U.S. provide a food pantry or soup kitchen as a community service. This compares to 85% of all local religious congregations.

Adventist congregations are more likely to conduct these community services on their own and less likely to do so in cooperation with one or more other churches or nonprofit organizations. The largest number of local faith groups (44%) provides this type of community service in collaboration with one or more partner congregations or agencies, while only one in four Adventist local churches (28%) do so.

Soup kitchens operated by Adventist churches are also more likely to function for only one meal a week, while other faiths are more likely to be open daily or several times a week. Food pantries operated by Adventist churches most often have no posted hours during which they are open to the public, nor are they usually registered with the regional, inter-agency food banks. Research conducted by the Center for Metropolitan Ministry at Columbia Union College concludes that due to these factors, Adventist food pantries and soup kitchens are significantly less visible and provide less service to the community.

Discussion Questions:

1. Does our congregation provide food pantry or soup kitchen services for the community?

2. If so, how accessible is it to needy individuals in our community who are not church members? How many meals/days a week are provided? What are the posted hours for public service?

3. Do we get food supplies from the regional food bank? What other cooperative or collaborative relationships are involved with other Adventist entities or with other community organizations or churches?

4. Should we appoint an individual or a task force to conduct an assessment and make recommendations about the future of this kind of service?

Sabbath marks the 161st anniversary of the Great Disappointment that took place on October 22, 1844, a key milestone for the Advent Movement. If you wonder about what the church is like today, you will want to study the research detailed in the Adventist Congregations Today book and CD-R. Learn more about the Faith Communities Today (FACT) research.

Paul Richardson
Executive Director
Center for Creative Ministry

Creative Pastor e-Newsletter, October 19, 2005, Center for Creative Ministry