It’s one of the wealthiest counties in Texas, so when Sharon, a Collin County resident and a member of St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano, saw the woman in front of her at the grocery store checking out with about 20 cans of cat food, she assumed the woman had a lot of cats. When the woman left, Sharon said as much to the clerk. “She doesn’t have cats,” the clerk said. “Why did she buy that much cat food, then?” Sharon asked. “It’s cheaper,” was the reply.
The North Texas Food Bank subsequently held a fundraising concert at St. Andrew. Still touched by what she’d seen, Sharon took the opportunity to discuss the need in Collin County with the Food Bank Director. “We’ve been thinking about how we could expand our mission and outreach,” said the Director. “Let us help,” said Sharon. That was the beginning of a key outreach at St. Andrew – the Seven Loaves Community.
“The first day, only one person showed up,” said Senior Pastor Robert Hasley.
That was in 2009. Today, the Seven Loaves Community feeds more than 1,800 people each month, provides 4,300 articles of clothing monthly to those in need and currently ministers to 45 women in the Project Hope outreach, which serves women who are caught in a cycle of poverty and abuse.
“We believe that this is what we are called to do as people of faith,” said Pastor Hasley. “We believe that every person is valued in the eyes of God.”
This summer, Seven Loaves is collecting backpacks and school supplies as part of a back-to-school effort for children who live in poverty.
“We are placing the school supplies in backpacks to give to about 1,000 children who we are serving through the Seven Loaves Community,” said Pastor Hasley.
You can donate backpacks, notebook paper, spiral notebooks, No. 2 lead pencils, packages of colored pencils, black and red ink pens and highlighters to the effort through Thursday, Aug. 6. Click here to learn more or call (469) 385-1813.
St. Andrew is a thriving church with about 7,000 members that is also committed to helping members understand and apply the Bible.
“That’s really the hard part, isn’t it?” said Teaching Pastor Scott Engle. “It’s one thing to know it, but the hard part is really applying it.”
Pastor Engle has seen many members do that as they have studied God’s Word.
“I see their lives being transformed,” he said. “Some people who came may have been a cultural sort of Christian, but it didn’t really make a difference in how they lived. God really hadn’t grabbed them. But now God has! That’s what the study of scripture can do for us.”
The church has recently begun reaching out to a younger demographic by starting a contemporary service. It isn’t business-as-usual.
“We have really re-imagined what contemporary worship ought to be like in a church of our size,” said Arthur Jones, the Lead Pastor of The Well, the church’s contemporary service. “The contemporary service now makes up about 40 percent of our worshiping congregation. It’s really a great testament to the faith of this church to say that we value Jesus and reaching people for Christ more than a particular worship style.”
No matter what service they attend, what does Pastor Hasley hope that people leave understanding each Sunday?
“We hope that when people walk out of here that they have a heart of service – serving God by serving others,” he said.
“God does great things here – not only through the Bible, but through our service and the work that we do in the community and overseas,” said Pastor Engle. “It’s a great place to be.”