The Garden Outreach Project
This winter, The Garden Outreach Project was blessed with both the support of the WCF and the engagement of the Christadelphian community in launching our first National Outreach Initiative!
For those unfamiliar with the Bags of Love Appeal, we organized the ordering and shipping of 20 sleeping bags to each participating ecclesia, which then delivered the sleeping bags to a local charity or shelter of their choice. Personalized pamphlets and cards were also offered along with the sleeping bags.
Alternatively, we offered a $250 reimbursement for the creation of care packs for those currently affected by homelessness, which were also delivered to local charities for distribution.
We have certainly felt as though God’s hand has been with us throughout this first appeal. To date, we have had 38 ecclesial/group orders for a grand total of 745 distributed sleeping bags. The Winter Appeal has reached thirteen states and three provinces, with 20 orders from the US and 18 from Canada.
Furthermore, five ecclesias were reimbursed for creating around 150 care packs to donate to homeless shelters. Not only has the response of the Christadelphian community been incredibly encouraging, but the responses of those who received and distributed the sleeping bags has reminded us of how ever-present Yahweh is.
Between directly answered prayers, and immediately served locals, we praise God for everything that He has worked in us all. As our very first Outreach Initiative, we came to anticipate the occasional misstep and dropped detail on our part; we didn’t, however, fully understand the outpouring of support, grace, and love you, our brothers and sisters, would show.
We pray that God will continue to bless our collective efforts to love in deed and in truth. Following, we have included the Pittsburgh Ecclesia’s Winter Appeal write-up. For some much needed encouragement in these historic times, the rest of the Winter Appeal stories can be found on our website at: www.thegardenoutreach.org/thestories/
Pittsburgh is known as the “City of Bridges.” There are 446 of them that cross three major rivers: the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio. In fact, there are more bridges here than any other city in the world. Even Venice, Italy has fewer.
As Christadelphians we all are in the business of bridge building— both interpersonally and spiritually. That’s why it felt good for members of The Outreach Committee of the Pittsburgh Ecclesia when we connected with Suzanna Mower who runs an organization she calls “Saturday Suppers.”
She works with an interfaith network of churches and volunteers to do far more than distribute meals to the homeless (who often shelter under the bridges and overpasses of Pittsburgh) every Saturday. Here’s a description in her own words:
“We are an organization that goes out and feeds the streets. Essentially, we believe that when you feed the body it opens the soul to wishfully receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel called to the lost in the streets of Pittsburgh and the broken. We are connected with a number of other volunteers and organizations to do what we do…
Every Saturday I come out with volunteers and we serve 80-100 hot, hearty and nutritious meals, along with other essential items such as deodorant, toothpaste, brushes, underwear, socks, gloves, handwarmers and blankets among other things. Basically, anything they need, I try and get.
I believe these people, as problematic as society sees them… still need and deserve love, [need to be] looked in the eyes and told Jesus loves them.… Blessings, blessings and more blessings to you and your congregation!”
We met outside the Pittsburgh Chapel on Saturday, December 5, to transfer the 20 sleeping bags from The Garden to Suzanna’s van. The bags all had a tag with our contact information and a Tidings pamphlet inserted inside. They were sent on their way with Suzanna, soon to be distributed along with a hot meal and other necessities.
She invited us to ride along one day, another eye-opening bridge to be crossed. We were reminded of the instructions to the ecclesia at Colossae:
Our first initiative of 2021 is “Knit2Gether”.
We’re encouraging brothers and sisters across North America to come together online and knit items for people affected by homelessness and newborns affected by poverty.
Lord willing, on Monday, January 25th, starting at 5:00pm PST (8:00pm EST), we’re hosting the first bimonthly virtual knitting group on Zoom. We pray this will connect people of like faith in a practical demonstration of our faith while also serving as an uplifting opportunity to socialize.
To get started, all you need is wool, needles or a loom, a pattern, and, of course, time and love! To access some of our recommended patterns online, please click here.
Unsure how to make blankets, hats and mittens if you can’t knit or crochet? Sis. Melinda Flatley shares some great ideas!
If you need to purchase knitting supplies but are financially unable to do so, please click here to fill out the form for reimbursement consideration, up to $50 (US) per person. Your information will be kept strictly confidential.
To find out more about the Knit2Gether project and to register for the Zoom knitting group, visit: https://thegardenoutreach.org/knit2gether/
Finally, if you would like to make a financial contribution to The Garden – you can donate online or contact Sister Virginia Brierly