Partnership with Community Emergency Services

I live in South Minneapolis. Technically, the “Uptown” area. For four years, this area has been my home. Never having lived in a city prior to moving here, I have learned that cities have “pockets.” Groupings of people. Racial, socio-economic, geographical, and educational pockets. Often times, it seems that it has become the status quo to become comfortable in our given pocket. In some ways, I have seen Mount Olivet be able to transcend these pockets. In the city, we have Mount Olivet members from various pockets. We have members from various suburbs, and, for that matter, various states.

I see this in our high school youth group. This summer at Cathedral of the Pines we welcomed the Confirmation class of approximately 175 ninth-grade students from 40 different high schools. These kids will enter our congregation as adults in the church this fall, following their Confirmation. Through the support of our church these students will have the opportunity to be involved at Mount Olivet and serve their community, with and through God.

One way in which they can do this is through a program called Community Emergency Services (CES). CES is a food shelf in downtown Minneapolis. What makes CES unique is they are not a stationary food shelf, rather a food shelf “on wheels.”

For many people in need, food shelves are a place to go to acquire food free of cost. CES is different in that it delivers food free of cost to those in need. In partnership with CES, Mount Olivet is the wheels and hands of this organization. On the first Saturday of every month for three years now, high school youth have been delivering food into one specific pocket of Minneapolis. Whether it be through physical ailments or limited access to transportation, these people only have access to this food through the program.

This specific pocket we deliver to is 96% Somalian. Initially, this environment was foreign to me and many of the youth who assist in the program. The language, the clothing and the interpersonal communication style of the recipients is vastly different to the style in which many of us are accustom to. What isn’t different is the people. The group we bring from Mount Olivet may look, dress and talk differently than the recipients, but at the core both sides are people. Smiling, thankful and kind.

CES has given me hope in our community – that while we often restrict ourselves to our given “pocket,” we are not in fact that different at the core from those of other communities. We all have different needs and different lifestyles, but at the core we are people. People sharing this community together. I may live in a predominantly white and at times gentrified neighborhood, but in the same city, two blocks south and eight blocks east of my home in Uptown, there is another community. A pocket of people who don’t look like me, but also possess the good God has instilled in our world. And they are beyond thankful for the support of Mount Olivet. – Dane Moore high school youth coordinator


To All at Circle of Friends:

Take a moment and imagine looking through the eyes of a person with disabilities. Imagine the warmth from the touch of a friendly smile, the glow in your heart from being remembered, included and laughing with caring friends. Small things have great meaning to you and sometimes it’s a simple hug that makes a bad day right.

The beauty is that this is not something imaginary, but it is reality. It is a heartwarming reality for our children who have been blessed by the tremendously loving people in the Circle of Friends program. The last few years, our daughter, Jennifer, and son, Patrick, have had their lives enriched by Anja, Kendra, Jackson, Ian and all the others over the years that have touched their hearts and reached out in the way God has asked all of us to do. Speaking for Jennifer and Patrick, we can tell you that what Circle of Friends has meant to them is immeasurable. And we extend a deep, and heartfelt thank you to all.       

But there is something else you should also know. You have also greatly blessed us. 

Like all parents of a disabled child, we have the opportunity to see the world through a very different lens. When people learn of our children, I see sympathy in their eyes and many directly express it.  They imagine us living a depressed, burdened life. 

But, nothing could be farther from the truth.   

First, we see our children with remarkable souls graced by God.  While their bodies may be broken, their hearts and their souls are blessed. Second, we see friends, family and strangers do remarkable things. Things they would not normally do. The parent of a disabled child has the blessing of seeing these good works again and again – through the good in God’s people and his image in their selflessness. This is a rare gift that God has given us through our beautiful children. And we see this in you.

This church and this program are the face of God. The organizers, the volunteers and, of course, you, the fabulous young adults doing what the Lord has asked of all of us – to love and serve. Circle of Friends answers that call. We believe we can speak for all parents with children in this remarkable program that the youth participating in this program give great hope for the future and make God very, very proud.

Thank you for reaching out. Thank you for giving your time.  And thank you for blessing us all. – Dan & Debi Moffatt