Times can be tight around Lake of the Ozarks in the early spring. Much of the employment around the Lake is seasonal, ending in the fall, so those who are counting on the warm months to get them through the year are nearing the end of their reserve funds. Area food pantries have often exhausted the generous donations they get around Christmas by now. It can be hard to hold on until people without these concerns start taking to water and cash begins to flow back into the community. This is why Faithbridge chose this time of year for one its major communityoriented mission initiatives.
For the second year, Faithbridge has helped meet the spring need by bringing in a semi-truck load of food from the organization Feed the Children. The church collects about $5,000 in its Christmas offering and gives it all to this cause. The rest of the money for the $8,100 delivery is raised by donations from businesses and individuals. The value of food is about $250,000, the church is basically just paying Feed the Children for the shipping.
There were about 100 people helping with the event on a Saturday morning at Faithbridge, which is nearly everyone in the church.
The morning kicked off with some songs lead by worship director Ashley Stites, who is also a professional performer at Main Street Music Hall.
“I was raised in church, but before I came here I didn’t have a church home,” Stites said. “We have a very laid-back, comfortable worship service here.”
Faithbridge worships in leased space behind Hyvee. They church has a nice, large central room for a sanctuary, with a stage and projection screens. Worship is comeas- you-are, and they sing a mix of contemporary Christian songs and old-time hymns.
Ann Larson has been at Faithbridge since the May 2009 relaunch, and is children’s ministry director for the church. She has seen the children’s ministry grow from three to four children up to about 40.
“Our biggest event of the year is vacation Bible school in July. We’ll have about 75 kids participate in that,” she said.
Larson is particularly glad to see the Feed the Children supplies helping support the Buddy Backpack program at local schools, in which low-income children have the opportunity to take home a backpack full of groceries on Fridays.
“Some of the kids around here wouldn’t have enough to eat through the weekend without this,” she said.
Bob Meyer attended Cavalry Evangelical Church in St. Charles, a church with thousands of members. But when he relocated to the Lake of Ozarks area about a year and half ago, he found what he was looking for in a church in Faithbridge. One of his reasons for being at the church is because of events like the food distribution.
“This church is very active in the community. You always hear in our church, ‘It’s not about us, it’s about them.’ Everything in the church focused outside of the church, on reaching out to others,” he said. “It’s a very spiritual church, with a good message to its community.”
Those that turned out to help weren’t just people from Faithbridge, others in the community joined in. John Summers was there because Cueni Smith invited everyone in his Kiwanis group to come.
“What is better to do on a rainy Saturday morning?” Summers said as he handed a box of food down the line.
Five people were there from Hy-Vee, also due to the Kiwanis club announcement. There were also volunteers from the Lake Ozark Fire Department, Kiwanis, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Rotary. A group of Boy Scouts from Harper’s Chapel UMC were there to lend a hand, too. Camdenton UMC had volunteers working on the receiving end, unloading trucks at the food pantry.
“We probably have 200 volunteers involved overall,” Cueni- Smith said.
Mindy Phillips and her family have been part of Faithbridge since its first beginnings. She’s happy to see the church growing, and said she is there because of the closeness of the congregation.
“It’s a family here, what happens to one of us is felt by all of us,” she said. “This is a church that helps people through tough times.”
For more on Faithbridge, go to www.faithbridgelakechurch.com.