Donations help many in need

📸 Courtesy photos

SOUTHBRIDGE — The First United Church (FUMC) of Southbridge has been developing a meal and supply ministry for the homeless and needy population.

When Pastor Sabina Terrades, from Shrewsbury, joined the church in January, she started learning about the community and quickly realized that both homelessness and addictions were rampant problems in Southbridge and that resources were scarce. Pastor Sabina always had a heart for this type of ministry and decided to offer free meals each time she was in in the office: Mondays at 6 p.m., Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m., and Fridays at 4:30 p.m., which became BBQ Friday when a grill was donated to the church.

People started coming and the word spread quickly, resulting in an always increasing number of guests. They come because they are hungry, because they are lonely, because they are sick (a 75-year-old woman was recently rescued from the street and is now recovering at the local rehabilitation center), because they need help with their addictions and because they need help with supplies due to no or moderate income.

Pastor Sabina Terrades preaching at FUMC.

FUMC started asking for donations of food, clothes — especially socks and underwear — and hygiene products. Winter is unfortunately around the corner and the homeless community is already worried. Starting in September, the church will welcome donations of clothes, shoes, handwarmers, blankets and other winter items.

This is a “Matthew 25” ministry (“For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was naked and you clothed me” – Jesus) with no judgement and love for all. FUMC believes in living the Christian Faith, not only on Sundays but all week long. Each person is valued, no matter social status, sexual orientation, cultural background, etc.

In May, FUMC launched a Monday Bible study, with a free meal, which has grown as well. It has been a successful “Bible 101” study designed for people, Christians and non-Christians, who want to know more about the Bible, such as when it was written, by whom, and what is it still relevant.

FUMC was founded in 1834 and has been going through major decline during the last decades. Pastor Sabina decided to start something new, instead of “reviving something already dead.” New people are welcome to give their input and “take charge.”

There have also been changes to worship (including more modern music). New community events are being organized and the church is becoming an active part of the community, also planning on participating in this year’s AutumnFest.

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