Free water giveaway downtown helps commuters ease the heat

News release from St. John’s Lutheran Church:

Free Water Giveaway Downtown Helps Commuters Ease the Heat

(June 26, 2012) – On Wednesday June 27th at 5 pm, St John Lutheran Church will be sharing free bottles of cold water to people driving in the afternoon traffic. A notecard given with each bottle declares, “This water is a FREE GIFT, just like God’s love shown to the world in and through Jesus, from your friends at St. John Lutheran Church, A Community of Beloved Disciples Making Disciples.”

Among those handing out the water will be many who come to St. John to enjoy the free dinner the church provides every Wednesday. The meals began in the fall of 2009, after St. John spent the summer offering “Sundaes on Wednesdays”—free ice cream sundaes followed by a weekly worship service, primarily intended for those who were out of town over the weekend and looking for another worship alternative during the week. The gatherings were such a hit with the community that one St. John member, Barbara Callender, decided to expand the offering into an entire meal beginning in the fall. The pressing economic needs of the neighborhood especially motivated Callender, the Food Coordinator, to ensure the weekly meals continued. “For me it’s a passion and probably what God wants me to do,” said Callender.

Three years later the weekly meals are still going strong, with attendance growing from 50 – 60 people the first year to 100 – 150 currently. The food and labor involved are donated by church members, supplemented by local grants from the Lutheran Foundation and others. Pastor Paul Offhaus, recently installed as pastor at St. John, was impressed by the church’s passion to serve the local community—many of whom struggle to have regular meals and lack positive social interaction. “There’s a definite need being met through these meals. Not only is there food for the body, there’s also conversation and community around the tables to feed the spirit,” said Pastor Offhaus, adding that the meal is immediately followed by a brief worship service in the church’s sanctuary.

So why a water giveaway? “When I started at St John, I happened to notice all the people in their cars backed up by the construction and the stoplight, in the hot sun, after a long day of work. It struck me that a cold drink of water would be a welcome relief and something I could easily see Jesus himself doing,” said Pastor Offhaus.

Perhaps the sign outside the church sums things up best: “Is anyone thirsty? Try Jesus: the Pause that Refreshes.”

Dinner: 5:30-6:15, with an open invitation to join a brief worship service in the sanctuary at 6:20 p.m. “Questions for God” sermon series starting July 11. Donations accepted to support the meals.


The full content of the notecards distributed with the water bottles is as follows:

This water is a FREE GIFT, just like God’s love shown to the world in and through Jesus, from your friends at St. John Lutheran Church, A Community of Beloved Disciples Making Disciples located at the corner of Jefferson and Van Buren in downtown Fort Wayne.

Considered by some to be the Gateway to the West Central neighborhood, St. John has been proclaiming God’s (free!) grace and truth for 159 years and counting. So stop by anytime—worship and meal times on the back.

In the meantime, stay cool with this water—and Jesus’ refreshing love!

Enjoy a free meal with us every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Worship with us:

Wednesdays @6:20 p.m.

Sundays @9:00 and 11:00 a.m.

Sunday School and Adult Forum @10:15 a.m.


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