HACKETTSTOWN – Taking inspiration from Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 long ago, Trinity Church in Hackettstown spent last summer planning to feed 5,000 people in two days, in a Caravan of Hope. The mission brought together hundreds of parishioners, community residents and food ministries in the tri state area, and when the last meal was served on September 9, they had fed 5,532 people a generous and nutritious boxed lunch.
The Trinity leadership was invited to take on this large mission when in June Pastor Frank Fowler put two fish and five loaves before them on a table, and explained the concept. They enthusiastically said yes, and went about the task of inviting people to participate. Donations of many sorts came in, partners in food ministries around the region signed up to receive meals, and on the night before the distribution, 225 people filled the church gym to assemble the boxed meals that included a turkey sandwich, piece of fruit, raisins, and much more. The event took about two and a half hours to complete, in what was a model of Methodist organization.
“One numbers guy figured out that the group assembled 43 boxes a minute,” said Fowler.
That weekend, 45 driver teams went to 40 locations such as Philadelphia, New York, Atlantic City, Allentown, Trenton and elsewhere. Each partner had “ordered” a set amount of meals, with the largest delivery being 400 meals taken to Camden. In local settings, ministry partners distributed the food through their regular methods.
In addition, local residents from the Trinity neighborhood were invited to sign up for a meal and 192 boxes were distributed on the church campus.
One special part of the mission was that each box included a personal handwritten note of encouragement and blessing parishioners wrote during the summer. Some boxes included a child’s hand written note, as kids in summer VBS ministry were invited to participate. Senior citizen members of the church who live in a residential care facility did their part by placing labels on the boxes.
Commenting on the Caravan, Fowler noted, “This was a powerful ministry in which many people participated, including numerous community residents. God blessed us with people who caught the vision, gave as they could, and in the end, we had just what we needed to accomplish the mission. Where God guides, God provides.”