By Jennifer Taylor
Every Thursday, White River Christian Church (Noblesville, Indiana) gives away free bread—and points hundreds of people to the Bread of Life.
A few years ago, the church opened a food pantry—“a storage closet, really,” says senior pastor Tim Brock—staffed by 10 volunteers. Today the “pantry” operates from a huge bowling-alley-turned-warehouse next door and feeds hundreds of people each week.
“This is now one of the largest food distribution centers in central Indiana,” Brock says. “And we really value the dignity of the people who come for help, so we created a ‘grocery store’ environment that allows each family to choose the food they need.”
The pantry opens at 3:30 on Thursday afternoons; at 5:00 visitors can eat a homemade meal prepared by volunteers. And at 6:30 they can participate in a worship service identical to the ones offered on Sunday morning.
Attendance in worship isn’t required to receive the free food, and many White River members with no involvement in the food pantry have made this their weekly worship time.
“It’s a diverse community of faith and a relaxed atmosphere,” Brock says. “It’s an alternative to Sunday morning for anyone—the hungry, the hurting, or the busy.”
Brock says White River is an exceptionally generous church and adopted the food pantry as a key outreach. As hundreds of people gather on Thursdays, the unusual worship time has become another cherished part of the church’s identity.
“We prayed about this idea during a time of little growth in our church, and it was God—not my ingenuity—that led us to take this step,” Brock says.
Jennifer Taylor, one of Christian Standard’s contributing editors, lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Read her blog at www. christianstandard.com.