The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 13, 2013

Lutheran church strives to feed hungry flocks

In the spotlight

Kelly Urban

JOHNSTOWN — The Rev. Ken Kelly wants to make sure people in the local community aren’t going hungry.

The pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 711 Chestnut St. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown, plans to start a new program that will feed those in the community who might be struggling to put food on the table.

The free meal program will begin Sept. 27 and take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the church hall.

Subsequent meals will be held the last Friday of the month at the same time.

“We selected the last Friday of each month simply because those living on fixed incomes are generally stretched pretty thin by then,” Kelly said.

“We’re not trying to preach to people with words, but rather trying to reach out to our neighbors with our actions. What’s good for Christ is good for the community.”

He said each year the church picks a local charity to support and gives a portion of the proceeds from its sales at the Cambria City Ethnic Festival to the organization.

“We also decided to do something at the grassroots level here and are diverting some of that money for this endeavor,” Kelly said.

To assist with additional costs, the church received a grant through the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s Office of National Mission, which provides funds to churches to assist with community initiatives.

“We were committed to do this either way, but this helps so we don’t have to rely on the festival money,” Kelly said.

Organizers initially plan to offer the meal program for six months.

“After that we will re-evaluate to see how it’s working, what can be improved, what needs to change and how we can do a better job,” Kelly said.

“We’d then like to apply for funding for the second half of 2014 because the overall goal

is to eventually do this year-round.”

In the meantime, Kelly wants to spread the word about the program and make sure people are aware they are invited to attend.

“There are no strings attached and we welcome all families,” he said.

“Even if this is something you don’t need yourself, you can tell someone else, or maybe you’d like to support it because it’s a good cause,” he said.

The hope is that the meal program will inspire other churches in the area to start something similar or join forces with Holy Cross so they can help more people in need.

“We can all work together and make sure those who are the most vulnerable – children and elderly – aren’t hungry,” Kelly said.

For more information or to get involved with the program, call the church at 539-0123.

Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at