In Pemberton, families living under the poverty line often have to make the difficult choice to spend $13 on a load of wash and dry at the local laundromat, or buy food for their family. Members of Pemberton UMC recognized this sacrifice and responded by starting a hands-on ministry called “Loads of Love.”
Rev. Hosuk Chung, Senior Pastor of Pemberton UMC first saw this great need in the community after speaking with church members and the many families who utilize the church’s food pantry.
Volunteers set up a table at the local laundromat and distribute coins and detergent packets to those in need. The ministry cost about $250 a month and worshippers at Pemberton UMC put extra offering into a soap bottle each Sunday to support the Loads of Love ministry. The outreach provides an opportunity for church members to take part in helping their community on a regular basis.
“Before this ministry, members did not have opportunities to see what the surrounding community really looked like,” said Chung. “At the same time, people in the community did not know what Pemberton UMC does. Through this ministry, both church and community are getting to know each other.”
One member of the community, Suzanne and her two roommates first heard about the ministry while at the church’s food pantry. Suzanne expressed to the volunteers that it is often hard on limited income to do a load of wash and dry at the laundromat. She would often go two or three months without doing laundry.
“Over the months that we have been using this service, we have watched more and more request help,” she said. “We also love the fact that while we are getting our laundry done we can add ourselves to the prayer list for whatever we need prayer for without anyone being judgmental to our needs.”
The Loads of Love Ministry has not only strengthened the church’s food pantry ministry but also helped start “God’s Closet” which is a free clothing shop that is open twice a month.
“We have also used and contributed to the clothing ministry over the past several months as I have been losing weight,” stated Suzanne. “I have needed to pick up smaller clothes and donate some of my larger clothes. This ministry has been such a blessing to me at this time.”
Since its conception in October 2014, Loads of Love has launched in two other United Methodist Churches in GNJ. Chung, along with colleagues and members of Pemberton UMC have developed a system and put a manual in place for other churches to get involved and model the ministry in their communities. Congregations who would like to start a Loads of Love ministry should contact Rev. Chung at email@example.com or call 609-894-8015.