Ministry to homeless, hungry is getting attention
By HEATHER JALLAD
Martha Brown UMC is a church located within an ever-changing community that has seen more than its fair share of transitions over the last 50 years. Just off I-20 in East Atlanta, and facing busy Moreland Avenue, Martha Brown has begun to seek more ways to be Christ’s church at work in the world, if only right outside our front doors.
The day after Christmas was a Sunday last year. Rather than go to church, Martha Brown members envisioned being a late Christmas present to their East Atlanta community by being the church and sharing God’s love. One way we did this was through a coffee buy-down in the village coffeehouse. The local patrons warmly received their gift that icy, snowy, morning. The other gift we wanted to give had to be put on hold due to the weather conditions, but God’s plans and purposes would not be thwarted for this small congregation.
Guided by the passion of one member and joined by others, our church is now feeding hamburgers and hot dogs – hot off the grill – to our homeless neighbors every Sunday on the steps outside our sanctuary. What God has placed in the hearts of this handful of members is now gaining the attention of the community as they see the church being the church.
As a small membership church with limited resources, this was a leap of faith. However, with so many marginalized people right outside our doors, how could we not act to share God’s love in real and tangible ways? More and more people in our community are beginning to ask what is going on at Martha Brown, and wonder how they can be a part of it. Recently a visitor and resident in the neighborhood, with connections to a meat purveyor, began to provide the meat for these meals.
We have begun to see some of our neighbors from Branan Towers, many of whom live at poverty level. We also send out 10 meals a week to men living under a bridge in East Point. Our prayer is that those who are fed leave not only with a full stomach, but with some sense of humanity and worth restored as we show and share God’s love with our neighbors.
As time has passed I have been struck again and again by the scene of our members, their children, and our neighbors all eating together on those front steps, much like we will be at the heavenly banquet when we all feast together at Christ’s return.
Rev. Heather M. Jallad is senior pastor of Martha Brown UMC in Atlanta. She can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 404-622-1473.