This summer, interns with the ELCA churchwide organization had an opportunity to visit Cross Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The interns were welcome by Pastor Michelle Townsend de Lopez who highlighted Cross’s history and the congregation’s diverse ministries. One of the ministries that Pastor Michelle highlighted was Cross’s “Bread of Healing Empowerment Ministry.” Through this ministry, a weekly food pantry is held at Cross, where 200 bags of perishable goods are distributed to those living in poverty. In addition, every Wednesday at Cross, 300 people receive hot meals. We happened to be there for the meal and got an opportunity to be present with community members. It was humbling to see the church and the community come together. Cross Lutheran Church does not just feed people physically, but they offer the opportunity for guests to be fed spiritually through a weekly Bible study. Through Bible study, people share testimonies, sing and encourage one another.

Another ministry that Pastor Michelle highlighted was Cross Lutheran’s jobs program (featured in the video mentioned above.) This ministry is supported in part through ELCA World Hunger’s Domestic Hunger Grants program. Through their job ministries, Cross Lutheran Church addresses the problem of unemployment in the community by helping individuals discover their own strengths in the midst of personal and economic challenges.. For some, this means transcending challenging circumstances and learning various skills through job training. They are then accompanied as they find employment. The story of one participant, Kenneth, was featured in a recent video from ELCA World Hunger and is a perfect example of how your gifts are supporting our neighbors in Milwaukee as they become food secure.

Visiting Cross Lutheran Church was a great experience for us to see the important work ELCA World Hunger supports here in the United States. What is more, it also helped put into perspective the ways people of faith can respond to large challenges like unemployment by supporting our neighbors as they steer their own development and regain a strong sense of self-worth.

Shubira Bocko is an intern with ELCA World Hunger, working with the Hunger Education team.