Perched neatly on the edges of four major interstates, Greencastle, Pa., is a literal “hub-city” for millions of travelers. It is also a hub for the homeless and those struggling financially, who end up caught between cities without money or transportation.
Paul and Denise Hutchison witnessed that reality upon meeting a girl with a black eye and no place to go. Gripped by the necessity of caring for this young woman, Paul and Denise followed God’s prompting and began a homeless ministry at the church he pastors, Greencastle’s Community Grace.
“You see these people,” Denise said, “and you’ve got to do something.”
Now, almost four years later, Community Grace supports their homeless brothers and sisters by providing shelter, food, and clothing along with job and life-skills training.
“We thought the next step would be, if God allowed us, to build a kitchen,” Denise said. “We don’t have a big space. The church is actually an old garage that’s been renovated. But there is one more space to finish. We’re building the kitchen there.”
At “370 square feet of kitchen,” the room holds a conventional and confectionery oven along with other standard kitchen equipment. The church plans to feed 100 to 200 people each week and will serve them in the sanctuary.
Volunteers from the congregation have had to learn a new skill-set to meet the challenge of cooking in large quantities. The Hutchison’s prior experience in the catering and restaurant business has given them a solid starting point, however, and Denise and her daughter, Jessica, will teach classes on how best to make bulk meals.
Community Grace’s congregation and the wider community have blessed this ministry with the willingness to donate time, money, and resources. Denise knew, and the church agreed, that if “God leads us to build a kitchen, that’s not just the only step he’s going to lead us in. He’ll find ways to bring in the food and everything.” She mentioned the church’s recent Easter Explosion, a community event that reached 6,000 people and included a helicopter drop of 30,000 Easter eggs, where the church incurred no costs. The event was free. “God is going to provide it, that’s the way our church feels about anything,” she said.
When the couple owned their own deli, Denise recalled, they knew that whoever entered their doors would be fed, no matter if they could afford it. Community Grace’s new kitchen functions with the same principle: “We just know that God’s going to [provide] because he wants the people fed.
“God just brings [the homeless and hurting] to us. Our church isn’t really easy to find. People don’t see it. [But] they’ve heard now about the church, so they just find it, or they call. We’re here to help. If people need clothes or food or whatever, they call us, and we can tell them honestly that we’ll have whatever they need tomorrow because it always comes through. And then we take it to them, and they’re amazed because they realize how much God loves them.” —by Marisa Vogel
If you are interested in sending donations to Community Grace for the kitchen ministry, their mailing address is Community Grace, P.O. Box 604, Greencastle, PA 17225.
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information about ministries in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.