Although they haven’t quite yet fed the five thousand, the Culver City church has been following in the footsteps of the Savior—and earlier this year, members hit a major milestone of serving 2,000 homeless people in Los Angeles.
One thing quickly becomes clear to anyone visiting the Culver City church: These people love fellowship! “It was this sense of community and inclusion that quickly made the Culver City church stand out as something different and special,” Hery Diaz said. He and his wife, Christine, travel extensively for their professions but chose to become members at Culver City.
“We’re a church that loves to eat,” said Associate Pastor Callie Williams III. “At one of our social events, someone suggested having breakfast for dinner, and I thought, ‘Wow! Why don’t we do this on Sabbath mornings and feed the homeless?’”
So, early one Sabbath morning in June 2016, in lieu of their typical Sabbath School hour, the first group gathered together at Culver City with their donations. They rolled up their sleeves, prepared breakfast burritos, and served this meal to homeless people in Venice Beach. While they planned to feed the hungry, they didn’t expect to be fed themselves. They returned that morning, touched by the hearts of all the individuals they had encountered.
“It’s simply amazing to see 6- to 8-year-olds handing bottles of water to the homeless,” first elder David Laulile said. “We have members from age 6 to senior citizens in their 80s involved in this ministry. It’s not just the food and clothes we give them. We give hugs to people and tell them that we love them and God loves them.”
One young woman asked Christine Diaz if it would be okay to give her a hug after receiving the food. It dawned on Diaz that it may have been months or longer since this individual had been embraced in a safe and loving manner.
Since that first breakfast, the group has continued feeding the hungry in Venice Beach on a quarterly basis. From its inception, the ministry has been entirely funded by the church members. In addition to providing nutritious meals, they have now expanded their ministry to include toiletries, blankets, socks, and gently worn clothing.
“People literally want to join our church because we are doing this outreach,” Williams said. “Too many congregations are glued to the four walls. We are trying to model what’s on the back of our blue T-shirts—‘The church has left the building.’ As pastors, it’s not our job to do it all. It’s our job to empower the members.”
Despite having hit this major milestone, this is only the beginning. The church members want to feed thousands more mouths and souls. They believe the saying: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”