“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
Matthew 25: 35
In the fall of 2012 members of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids committed themselves, and their building, to joining Family Promise’s Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). Family Promise, a national nonprofit organization committed to helping homeless and low-income families achieve lasting independence.
Gloria Dei’s motto is “Others First” and joining Family Promises’s Interfaith Hospitality Network in Cedar Rapids fit perfectly with the congregation’s commitment to serve their community by opening the church to people in need offering shelter, hospitality and meals. “Gloria Dei has long contributed to helping serve meals at other area congregations’ ministry in downtown Cedar Rapids where need is high. Joining the Interfaith Hospitality Network provided us the opportunity to host something on our own,” said Trish Decker, Associate Pastor at Gloria Dei.
The volunteers at Gloria Dei help by preparing and serving meals, staying over night, playing with the children and helping with homework. Most importantly the volunteers are there to listen, share compassion and build community with the families. “It is heart warming to watch the volunteers and families sit around the table for dinner together, and hear them in conversation together building community,” shared Karen Goedeken and Judy Lockett, Gloria Dei members and Family Promise volunteer coordinators.
Gloria Dei is one of many examples of how congregations in the Southeastern Iowa Synod are committed to being an anti-hunger synod and are being Led by the Spirit to listen to the needs of their community. “Family Promise is a ministry that succeeds with widespread participation both within congregations and the community,” explained Decker. Holy Redeemer Lutheran in Cedar Rapids provides volunteers and food to Gloria Dei’s site. First Lutheran in Cedar Rapids is also a host congregation, along with St. Stephen who receives support from Seeds of Faith in Lisbon.
Family Promise has Interfaith Hospitality Networks in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, which many congregations of the Southeastern Iowa Synod participate in. To learn more about Family Promise at www.familypromise.org