Award Honors Work With Homeless, Hungry People

Post a Comment » Written on April 23rd, 2008     
Filed under: News
LEXINGTON, MA (April 23, 2008) – A Jewish congregation honored Trinity Covenant Church a week ago last Sunday for the congregation’s work to feed the homeless and hungry.

Trinity pastor Doug Cederberg represented his congregation when he received the Rabbi Samuel Chiel Hunger Relief Award at Temple Emmanuel in Newton. The synagogue works with Massachusetts Avenue Baptist Church to provide meals at the church.

The program, Project Manna, was started by Rabbi Chiel.

The award was made even more special because the food program operates out of the Baptist Church facility – that building served as Trinity Covenant’s original facility 100 years ago. Trinity members serve once a month and also have made significant financial contributions, Cederberg says.

The ministry is but one example of Trinity’s work that has become increasingly focused on compassion, mercy and justice initiatives during the last five years. The catalyst was one sentence spoken by North Park Theological Seminary professor Klyne Snodgrass during one Midwinter Pastors Conference.

Cederberg was in the audience when he heard Snodgrass say, “If you are looking to be a winner as this world counts winners, then you’ve got the wrong religion.” The pastor began to rethink his own life as well as the mission of the church.

“The people really responded,” Cederberg says. “Our church has exploded with this kind of ministry. The people are really enthusiastic and on fire.”

The congregation has demonstrated its commitment through sacrificial giving, Cederberg says. The congregation, with an average attendance of roughly 140, has given tens of thousands of dollars to an orphanage in Uganda as well as a local urban renewal ministry.

In March, the congregation hosted Grace Akallo, author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for North Uganda’s Children. Akallo, who was kidnapped as a child and forced to fight alongside rebels before she escaped, has earned worldwide attention for her work to stop the suffering in her native country.

Although the congregation has increased its involvement in compassion ministries, the church has a long history of caring for hurting individuals. Once a month for the past 25 years, members have served meals and spent evenings with people suffering severe mental illness.

Members pick up the guests at their residences and bring them to the church. An evening together includes playing games and watching TV in addition to sharing the meal, Cederberg says.

Cederberg reflects on the ministry with amazement. He notes that the idea came from a woman in the community who approached the church to see if the people would be willing to host the meal. “She wasn’t a believer,” says Cederberg of Victoria Buckley. “Now she’s one of the most faithful members of our congregation.”

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