Local churches band together on hunger initiative

By Sarah CR Clark

Parishioners from five churches appeared together in the recent St. Anthony Park 4th of July parade with a shared goal: To raise money to feed hungry, local families in an initiative titled 4th For Feeding Families.

Collectively called the St. Anthony Park Faith Communities, clergy and volunteers from St. Matthew’s Episcopal, St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, Centennial Methodist, St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church and The Church of St. Cecilia walked the parade route together.

Daniel Ruen, co-pastor at SAP Lutheran Church, described the parade:, “We marched as a joyful, intercultural, intergenerational witness, dressed in balloon animal hats, our church t-shirts and waving ‘This 4th for Families’ signs.”

At the time of Bugle publication, 4th For Feeding Families had raised just over $1,000 of a potential $2000 matching challenge. All money collected was given to Every Meal, a Roseville based non-profit that fights child hunger.

Every Meal distributes food to students at many neighborhood schools including SAP Elementary, Murray Middle School, Brimhall Elementary, Falcon Heights Elementary and Como Park Senior High.

According to the SAP Faith Communities, the St. Anthony Park Community Foundation was the fiscal sponsor for “this first-ever fundraising component to the parade.” The Foundation’s role as fiscal sponsor included managing donations, which enabled them to be tax deductible as the Foundation is a registered non-profit organization.  

Foundation Executive Director Julie Dreschler told the Bugle, “Our community has a strong history in identifying gaps and local needs and works together to address these issues. This [fundraiser] is no different, but the unique thing is they aren’t doing it in isolation, in their own’ faith community. They are all working together and there is real power in working in partnership.”

Marie Lister, a member of the 4th in the Park committee and parade coordinator, said the committee was “excited to add a community fundraising aspect to the 4th in the Park festivities. This is such a beloved community event and our planning committee is always looking for more ways to improve it and connect with more people.

     “When the group of faith leaders contacted us about setting up this fundraising component, we thought this was a great opportunity to support the community in a new way.”

Lister said she hopes this partnership will continue into the future. Ruen expressed similar hopes.

“I think we’ll make it a regular feature,” he said “We have $8,000 to cover a $2.000 match for the next four years. We’ll see what everyone wants to do when we meet up again next month.”

To date, SAP Faith Communities has recently been awarded a grant from the SAP Community Foundation to host a north and south SAP community meal in February 2024. The group also plans to embark on a collaborative asset-based community development training this fall, aided by funding from SAP Lutheran Church.

“Our plan is to keep reaching out to both Christian and interfaith neighbors in the surrounding area,” Ruen said.

Sarah CR Clark lives in St. Anthony Park and is a regular freelance writer for the Bugle.

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