Previously named Kingswood Church in Blaine, Minnesota, Hope Church was already prepared to serve the needs of the Minneapolis suburb prior to the hit of COVID-19 through its food shelf, Hope for the Community.

Led and founded by Hope Church pastor, Dr. Alan Goracke, Hope for the Community is the fourth-largest food shelf in the state of Minnesota.

“Prior to COVID-19, our team had been serving around 500-600 families each week, meaning about 2,600 people were getting something to eat each week who otherwise wouldn’t,” Goracke said.

At its inception toward the end of the recession in 2010, this food shelf fed roughly 27 families in the community through corporate surpluses. As the ministry has grown, however, Goracke, a former businessman, knew he needed to adjust how the food shelf was set up to better accommodate the needs of the community.

“What I found out, believe it or not, is that when you’re applying for grants and trying to get donations, sometimes organizations will discriminate against you because you have those six letters at the end of your name: church,” Goracke said. “We were kind of limited in the ministry of the church, so we spun it off into a humanitarian organization; so, it’s in the church, but it’s separate from the church.”

As people have grown increasingly in need due to shutdowns and layoffs for COVID-19, Hope for the Community has nearly doubled the number of families and people it’s feeding, now consistently serving around 1,000 families recently in need of food.

In May, Hope for the Community reported its biggest week in its 10-year history, serving 49,000 pounds of food to 1,204 families and approximately 3,500 people within those families.

Many who obtain food through the food shelf have little to no affiliation with Hope Church outside of Hope for the Community, but Goracke says long-time clients and volunteers of the food shelf consider Hope Church to be their home church.

“Some of these families have never stepped foot in our doors on Sunday mornings, but if you were to ask them today where they attend church, they’d say, ‘Hope Church,’” Goracke said.

As unrest abounds in not only the Minneapolis area but around the United States following the tragic killing of George Floyd, Goracke said he wants Hope Church and Hope for the Community to remain what the source of their namesakes suggests: places of hope.

“Now, more than ever, we want to be a place of hope, a place where any and all know they are welcome and accepted,” Goracke said.

“One of the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic has been finding ways to be the Church when we can’t gather as the Church, said Rev. Tim Purcell, district superintendent of the Iowa-Minnesota District. “Hope Church and Hope for the Community were already being the hands and feet of Jesus in their community, but during the pandemic, they have taken it to a whole new level.”

Hope for the Community occurs every Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at Hope Church. For more information, visit its Facebook page.