This is the first in a series of articles about our five West Ohio Conference Advance Specials organizations. Learn more about conference advance specials at westohioumc.org/advancespecial.
St. Paul United Methodist Church was founded over 130 years ago in the East Dayton community where the Huffy Bicycle Company provided jobs, housing and more for workers and executives. Drive around the community and you can still see the historic homes remaining from days when people walked through well-tended neighborhoods to a prosperous church that reflected the security of good jobs and faith, family and friends. Sunday worship and classrooms were filled with well-dressed, contented, Christians of all ages.
Today the historic Huffman district of east Dayton (named after the Huffman family of Huffy Bicycle) is home to urban pioneers who have bought and restored houses, yet the area surrounding the church is a pocket of poverty unmatched anywhere else in Dayton. The church's neighbors are people who are homeless, seeking identity and struggling for survival, yet many still know Jesus as savior and reason for existence. Read Hunger in Huffman.
Under the leadership of Rev. George Brewer, who pastors both St. Paul and nearby Eastmont United Methodist churches, the St. Paul congregation worships three times per week with each service attracting a unique and important demographic. The Sunday morning congregation is 25-30 mostly older Christians and covenant supporters from other churches whose faith and determination have kept St. Paul alive and growing in service to their neighbors in spite of changing demographics. The Tuesday worshippers are 45-50 persons struggling to survive who continue to worship passionately, share joys and concerns for one another and have become a strong community of faith and caring to the many others who come for the meal. Saturday's Hispanic worship of 15 -20 adults and children is the only Hispanic ministry in the Miami Valley District and the oldest ongoing Hispanic ministry in the West Ohio Conference.
With the help of our faithful worshippers, hundreds of partner individuals and over 30 partner churches St. Paul provides:
- Over 200 hot meals every Tuesday and 150-200 breakfasts every Saturday morning. We are currently creating a new worship time preceding breakfast.
- A food pantry that provides food for survival to over 250 people each week. As they wait to be served in our hospitality room they receive refreshments, support, and conversation from volunteers.
- An after school program of 45 children and youth called the Young Peace Makers club (YPC) meeting four days a week. They are helped with homework, served a hot meal and taught to follow Jesus.
- Hispanic Community night is on Wednesdays nights with English as a Second Language (ESOL) classes and bible study.
St. Paul and its outreach services survive on a $225,000 budget and volunteers from over 30 partner churches who provide food, labor and financial support. In addition many tasks are fulfilled by workers from the “Job Center” who must do service hours to receive public assistance. They dream that with support from partners they will be able to establish a Freedom School and a Justice for Our Neighbors initiative, both of which would assist neighbors in going beyond survival to sustenance.
The St. Paul congregation sees their church as a Matthew 25 church, a place to meet the Lord. “Where have we seen you, Lord?” (Matt.25:37-40)... and currently provide all six relationships listed in the scripture:
"Recently Pastor George preached in a sermon that whenever we draw lines to separate ourselves from others we find Jesus standing on the other side of the line staring back at us. During the dismissal, he passed out erasers with the challenge, 'Go forth into the highways and byways erasing every line that you can find.' A number of weeks later during Tuesday church, Robert, a motorized wheelchair-bound man living in the neighborhood; spoke up during worship joy time. He held up his eraser and shared with us that he had been erasing lines wherever he found them and felt that God was using him to make a Christ-like difference in the neighborhood."
St. Paul invites you to stop by for a personal tour and pray with them any time.St. Paul United Methodist Church