Halibut for the Homeless: How the Gift of Wasted Food Fostered Friendships in a Local Congregation Open Access
Starr, Ryan (Spring 2018)
Friendship and partnership language are not new to the church. They are also not new to the practice of ministry within most congregations. What is uncommon is the deliberate partnership of a church with a corporation. The thrust of my project represents an effort to lead the congregation to find a new mode of ministry that partners with our corporate neighbors by finding shared purpose in our community. A church and a grocery store collaborated to feed the homeless population in Memphis, TN. During a three-year process of systematizing, transporting, cooking, and serving unsold food, Kingsway Christian Church discovered the value of corporate partnerships. The church also discovered a unique problem: the gift of more donated food than could cook themselves. To best steward the leftover food, the local congregation chose to partner with local schools and non-profits, until nearly all the food was distributed. Through employing a sociological model known as participatory action research, the church discovered practical lessons for ministry. Namely, that they did not need to manufacture ministry somewhere else in Memphis, but only needed to recalibrate their thinking to see their immediate neighbors as partners in ministry. The paper finds that a similar model of ministry occurs as the early church started in Jerusalem and then spread to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Acts scholars refer to this ministry expansion as “geographic centering.” Karl Barth notices a similar model of expansion between neighbors. He suggests establishing partnerships with those (biologically and geographically) closest before working outwards towards more civic and distant relationships. Lastly, the paper proposes that using vectors can more faithfully measure success than traditional forms of gathering and evaluating data. Measuring the direction of a ministry (e.g. towards or away from God) provides the wider church with an alternative, and often more theological mode, of measuring success.
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