ST. GEORGE — The ribbon-cutting ceremony for Solomon’s Porch Foursquare Fellowship, a St. George Christian church, brought out people of different faiths to celebrate the church’s new location at 1495 S. Blackridge Drive Thursday.
The church is known locally for the Sunday Feast, a free weekly meal for people in need.
Solomon’s Porch is part of The Foursquare Church, a worldwide Christian group based on Bible teachings.
About three years ago, Rev. Jimi Kestin and his wife, Rev. Rickine Kestin, along with members of their congregation, noticed that while there were places where those in need could get food or meals during the week, there were no hot meals over the weekend for the elderly, homeless and otherwise hungry.
Moved by this need and their dedication to service, the church started the Sunday Feast and Friday food pantry.
The programs quickly grew past their financial ability, and the church reached out to the community, finding help from the Utah Food Bank and LDS humanitarian services, as well as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Bishop’s Storehouse.
While the church has been serving food for three years, they have been around for about nine years, when they first opened their doors on their old building at the corner of 400 East and Tabernacle Street.
That is where they held weekly services and fed the hungry up until November 2014, when the time came to renew their lease and they found they could no longer afford to lease that location.
They looked at a few different places before settling on their new location at 1495 S. Blackridge Drive, but the road to their new church was filled with challenges.
“We were not prepared for a move, and we’re a church of about 50-plus people,” he said. “We’re a small church, we’re not an affluent church, but the faith community rallied around us. The Catholic church, the LDS church, the Presbyterian church, the Church of Christ, many of the congregations rallied around, raised close to $8,000 to help us out.”
They made it into the new location, officially opening July 1, and already serving the first Sunday Feast that week.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked their welcome into the new location by the St. George Chamber of Commerce, as well as the reopening of the Friday food pantry.
Another change that comes with the new location is increased work with the LDS church as missionaries from the LDS church will help run the pantry every week.
These partnerships are important to the church, Kestin said, as they’re what keep the service programs running, but they also bring a special spirit to St. George.
“We were excited to be able to partnership because, really, one of our core values as a church at Solomon’s Porch is we are about reaching out to the community,” he said. “It’s part of the Foursquare heritage to work across denominational lines, to work across faith lines. To work with people to better the community we live in.”
The group now feeds about 100 people a week, but they try to help those who visit them with more than food, Kestin said.
“Through those relationships that we build over lunch, we try to connect people with resources to change their circumstance,” Kestin said.
And it has worked, LDS missionary Donna Conder said.
Conder and her husband are serving a mission helping Switchpoint Community Resource Center residents, many of whom use Solomon’s Porch services. She said:
Well, in Switchpoint I’ve watched people come in that had maybe $12 in their pocket and only the clothes on their back, and I’ve seen many of them leave and they have jobs, they have places to go and live, they have had children that are maybe in foster care that they haven’t been able to have before that, they’ve maybe been able to reunite with their families, and so it’s working and it’s very rewarding to see that.
In fact, one person Conder has worked with at Switchpoint helped the church with setting up its sound system and television screens, getting an opportunity to build his skills and better himself.
While Kestin said he foresees the programs continuing to grow, ultimately the goal for him is for St. George to no longer need them because its residents are no longer going hungry.
“We’ll be here for as long as it’s needed because that’s really part of our DNA,” he said.
As a nonprofit organization, Kestin said, the church relies on donations and volunteers to run the Sunday Feast and Friday food pantry.
Those who wish to make a tax-deductible donation or give their time to help can contact Kestin at 435-669-9070 or mail a donation in to P.O. Box 1254, St. George, Utah, 95771.
Ed. note: Those considering contributions are advised to consult with their own professionals for tax advice and investment risks.
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