Church feeds body and soul

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Every second and fourth Monday of the month, Michelle Weaver joins a small army of volunteers at the First Baptist Church of Alabaster to do one of her favorite things in the world.

“To me, the most rewarding thing is getting a chance to meet not only their physical needs, but also their spiritual needs. We are able to share with them food and the love of Jesus Christ,” said Weaver, the church’s director of food and community ministries.

“A lot of people come to us so broken and desperate, and sharing God’s love with them gives them hope and something to hang on to,” she added.

Weaver and about 35 church volunteers man the First Baptist Alabaster food ministry twice a month as they distribute food, clothing and faith to between 150-200 people a month.

Through the program, those in need apply for assistance and schedule times to pick up food items from the church. On the food pick-up days, the church volunteers also minister and pray with those in need.

“It’s a tremendous ministry. Our volunteers offer prayer counseling for anyone who needs it,” Weaver said. “We also have a clothing ministry for children who may not have clothes to wear to school.”

Because of the current economic climate, the ministry has been seeing more and more visitors over the past few years. About two years ago, the church served between 25-50 people a month through the food ministry, Weaver said.

“We actually started out 12 years ago in a closet inside the church and one person working it. Since then, we’ve expanded to a house next to the church,” Weaver said, noting the church is planning to close in the house’s carport to allow more room for the food ministry.

The higher number of people relying on the food ministry has placed a high demand on the ministry, Weaver said.

“We are always asking for donations and food drives,” Weaver said. “We work some with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and our church members have done a great job in supporting us.”

The hard economic times have hit a wide range of people, Weaver said.

“A lot of people don’t realize that there are people in their own backyard who need help. A lot of times, we won’t know a person is struggling until they show up on the second or fourth Monday,” she said. “We see people from all walks of life and all different backgrounds.”

In addition to food and clothing donations, the church is also always looking for volunteers to help with the food drive, Weaver said. To donate or to volunteer, call the church at 663-3531, extension 107.