I was asked to become the Coordinator of the Loaves and Fishes Ministry after Father Jacob fell asleep in the Lord in January. At that time I had no idea of the importance of the Loaves and Fishes Ministry not only at St. John’s but also in the Atlanta Orthodox community and the Grant Park neighborhood. I received lots of suggestions, criticisms and concerns from many people within each community. The over whelming concern was the continuation of the Loaves and Fishes Ministry. We wondered if people would continue to support Loaves and Fishes in the absence of Father Jacob and could we allay the concerns of the Grant Park Community.
After seven months of service, I can assure you that the Loaves and Fishes Ministry is stronger than ever. In January of this year we served 2100 meals, both breakfast and lunch. The month of July we served almost 4000 meals. Our ministry has served a total of just over 16,000 meals from January through July.
The success and strength of the Loaves and Fishes Ministry comes from the faithful staff, the volunteers that help cook and serve the meals and the support of the Orthodox Churches of the Atlanta area. I can’t tell you how many phone calls we receive, offering help, food and prayers for the Loaves and Fishes Ministry.
The “Not in My Neighborhood” attitude was apparent with a few of our neighbors that I met with from the Grant Park Community. They were concerned that, without Father Jacob, past problems would re-occur. I make it a point to talk with the neighbors walking their dogs and children and met with the Grant Park neighborhood association leadership. I assured them that the same rules of decorum and conduct which Father Jacob expected of the people we serve would be applied and enforced around the church and within the community.
Father Chris is the chaplain of the Loaves and Fishes Ministry: he counsels our clients, refers them for further assistance and conducts Bible studies. Two organizations provide help for our people with medical and mental health issues along with transportation to doctor appointments and reunification with families.
There are several special events coming up. The Loaves and Fishes Ministry is providing food (a cookout) for the Open House on Sept. 28. Our plan is to introduce ourselves and Orthodoxy to our Grant Park neighbors. Then, believe it or not, Christmas and our two Christmas programs are not that far off. Matushka Angela and Rachel Mizrahi are in charge of the children’s gift program and the Christmas day meal at St. John’s, and will need a great deal of prayers and support as in the past.
I know that the Loaves and Fishes Ministry will continue to grow throughout the rest of the year. I am asking for your continued prayers and support.
Coordinator Loaves and Fishes
A Pan Orthodox Ministry