What began as a time for four Kalamazoo (Mich.)-area congregations to connect with each other quickly grew into what they could do to connect with the surrounding community. By pooling their energies and resources, the churches have found that they are much more effective in their efforts to share food and other resources where they are needed.
According to Simon Tuin, pastor of Heritage Christian Reformed Church, “God is honored and our community is blessed when we lock arms with others to meet a real need.”
Heritage CRC is a part of this recent partnership, along with two Reformed Church in America congregations and a United Methodist church. Together they are the Oshtemo Area Churches (OAC), and together they have coordinated events like the several food giveaways they sponsor at a local elementary school every third Saturday of the month except December.
Additionally they host a Loaves and Fishes Pantry Monday through Thursday two weeks each month and another food pantry that is accessible as needed throughout the month.
Over the months, OAC has developed strong ties with a local elementary school and various community leaders. Tuin notes, “We have developed an amazing relationship with the school leaders and the Community in Schools director.” This fall the churches have launched a second season of collecting winter outerwear for school children.
The group is also working to include other congregations to strengthen their efforts even more.