Lenten Stories: One lifeline that never goes away

ELCA’s 40 Days of Giving

Thank you for reading stories of the life-saving work made possible by gifts to ELCA World Hunger during Lent. Learn more at elca.org/40days »

One lifeline that never goes away



St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church’s Lunchtime Ministry offers a warm meal, hospitality and community to neighbors in Hoboken, N.J.

The ministry serves about 65 people per day. In addition to meals, they offer free haircuts, music and a sense of community. Stanley Enzweiler, the program manager, said while different things bring people there, the only requirement is respect for the space and the people around them.

“We’ll give you a warm meal, a fresh pair of socks, and a listening ear no matter what you did last year or last night,” Stanley said. “Whatever your story is, we will welcome you.”

The values of the ministry include respect, hospitality and forgiveness.

“Even if you break the rules at Lunchtime Ministry and have to leave our community for a few days, we will always welcome you back,” Stanley said. “Everyone messes up a time or two, but no one is beyond forgiveness. We are one lifeline that never goes away.”

One guest, Len, attended technical school in Texas before getting deployed to California to work as a forklift driver for the U.S. Air Force. After his honorable discharge, he stayed in California until his father died, and then he returned to New Jersey to take care of his mother. She died in 2011, leaving him with nowhere to go. Although he stayed at other county shelters, a few bad decisions got him kicked out of these for life.

Len came to Lunchtime Ministry as a last resort. Although it’s not an overnight shelter, he is able to get a few hours of sleep on the benches or floor during open hours. Like many guests, he helps out when needed by cleaning tables, taking out the garbage and posting event flyers. He also attends church services, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and Bible study. Most of all, he is known for encouraging volunteers.

This ministry is powered by volunteers and financial support that includes an ELCA World Hunger Domestic Hunger Grant. Thanks to your gifts, Lunchtime Ministry can continue to dish out delicious and filling meals served with respect every day.

The world provides enough food for all, but more than 800 million people around the world face chronic hunger. We believe in a God of abundance, so as a church, we live out our call in baptism to strive for a just world where all are fed. ELCA World Hunger is our church’s ministry to end hunger and poverty. We walk alongside our partners and companions in the United States and more than 60 other countries. Your gifts to ELCA World Hunger address hunger and poverty around the world with creative and courageous action.

This Lent, you’re invited to join together with fellow supporters to study, reflect and give during ELCA World Hunger’s 40 Days of Giving. Experience how the grace of Christ moves us to engage in transformative works of love around the world through ELCA World Hunger as God calls us into the ministry of hope, liberation and restoration for our world.

Learn more at ELCA.org/40Days.