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Pastor Launches Food Pantry to Help Poor 'in the Country'

The Rev. Martin Milne, of Zion's Lutheran Church, is driven by a desire to unite his church with the local community.

The Rev. Martin Milne, of , says he’s always dreamed of being the church of the community.

“A church that’s not involved with the community and with its people I just don’t think is a church,” he says.

Milne became involved with Zion's in 2006, but soon after he started, he realized there wasn’t much that united the area. One day, he had a conversation with an inner-city pastor that gave him an idea.

“It almost sounded like [the pastor] felt that… because of where he was located in the city, that all the poor and hungry and homeless were all there,” Milne says. “And I thought to myself, ‘Well that’s not true. They’re in the country too.’”

So Milne contacted the local ministerium of clergy in December of 2008 and asked if they would help him begin a Food Pantry for those in need. By May of 2009, they had one up and running, beginning with only one or two families. By that fall, the numbers had doubled, and now, the Food Pantry feeds more than 250 people each month.

“It was my hope that it wouldn’t be just a church thing, but that it would be community-supported,” he says. “Now, there are people who come in here weekly that I’ve never seen before who have decided to donate food and money.”

Milne also brought the community together when the unexpected October “snowpocalypse” caused massive power outages. when he realized it had heat and power, even though the surrounding areas didn’t.

“I contacted our church council and told them I was going to keep the church open for 24 hours until people could get power back, and no one asked questions,” Milne says. “They just said ‘do it.’”

After contacting WFMZ-TV and Patch.com to try to get the word out, Milne contacted Second Harvest Food Bank (the Food Pantry’s agency) and told them he wanted to use some of the Pantry’s food to feed the people there. With hot coffee, French onion soup, and an Internet connection, the church became a small safe house.

and so did Milne, even though he had power at his own home.

“I thought, ‘How can I be with the people if I, myself am going to leave and go home and be fat and comfortable while everyone else is freezing?’” he says. “It seemed wrong to have all the amenities and not do something about it.”

Sandy Ruch-Morrin December 02, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Although not mentioned in the Patch article, our local Zionsville farms support the local food bank as well, I believe, as do our local scouting groups. Thank you for bringing this community effort to the news! Sandy Ruch-Morrin, Zionsville, PA
Deborah Terfinko December 03, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Girl Scout troops from the Tri-Creek Service Unit (Alburtis, Lower Macungie, Macungie, Upper Milford) are collecting items for the Zionsville food pantry each month as an on-going service project. Debby Terfinko, Tri-Creek Service Project Coordinator
Marty Milne December 03, 2011 at 07:59 PM
To Sandy and Debby and readers of the Emmaus Patch, You are absolutely correct. These are one of the MANY local organizations and businesses that help support the pantry. We couldn't do it without you. From the Girl Scouts, local farms, and local businesses like the Zionsville Antique Mall, to individuals who want to give back to their community in service, this is the COMMUNITY'S pantry. We are simply best to house it in our church. And without volunteers from all the churches and partners within the community helping EACH WEEK to pack bags, sort canned goods, stock shelves, and the list goes on and on, the pantry couldn't do what it does for others. I invited everyone to come and visit the pantry. It's not much to look at, but it is a beautiful thing.

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