The Diner4 min read

In the summer of 2014, Flint LCMS Tri-Circuit pastors took a prayerful look at transforming one of its member churches on Flint’s east side into an urban mission center to meet the needs of a neighborhood in disrepair.

The Michigan District LCMS agreed to support an attainable plan to preserve a meaningful presence in the community.

By April of 2015, volunteers from nine congregations committed to perform Operation Clean Up in cooperation with the Genesee County Land Bank. This “clean and green” effort resulted in mowing and clearing debris from more than 175 vacant lots on numerous weekends throughout the summer by more than 500 volunteers.

But that’s not all they do. One of the many outreach efforts at Franklin Avenue Mission is the Diner, where the volunteers currently serve an average of 90 people each night. Here are some stories from the Diner as told by Sue Hooper of Faith, Grand Blanc—one of the churches committed to the Franklin Ave. Mission effort.


“I live here,” he said as he came up to the table. The men around him jostled him, teasing him for such an outlandish comment when they were standing in a church basement. He said it again: “I live here,” and then proceeded to explain: He had grown up in a house on that property; when he was older his parents sold the house to the Michigan District, who then razed it and built Calvary Lutheran Church on that site. Since the Franklin Avenue Mission was begun, the welcoming signs and friendly people who worked weekends over the summer increased his curiosity. He was there on Day 1 of the Diner, pointing out to any who would listen where his house had been, or where he and the neighborhood boys used to play. His wife lives in Wyoming with their son, since he is not able to care for her, so he enjoys the social contact. Jon has engaged the workers at the Diner, and hasn’t missed a night.

Stephen is another regular. A boy of about 13, he also has not missed a night—although he has been alone. He lives across the street from the church, and his mother has not been home from work to be able to take advantage of the hot meal. Since the object is to have no leftover food, take-out boxes are the norm; Stephen has frequently taken food home to her. He has also gotten to know several of the other boys, and enjoys hanging out.

Needs are many at “the Diner,” but God’s love is reaching out

Anywhere from 12 to 20 children have been a regular part of the children’s activities at the Diner. For those who are hungry, a snack is served after the opening ice-breaker activity. Some have come for the crafts. Some have come with extended families—siblings, cousins, aunts, grandparents. Parents are getting to know one another over a cup of hot coffee while they wait for the children and the meal. The children’s ministry is planning a Gifts for All God’s Children night on December 22, where each child will hear the message of Christmas and receive presents.

Word is spreading. Recently a gentleman came in who drove for a transportation company. He said his rider asked to be taken to the Diner, so he thought he would come in and see what it was about. Every night the Diner has been open, the overflow room has had to be used. An average of 90 people are served each night, and needs are many with the Diner.

We are so blessed to have warm houses and food on our tables. Most of us don’t wonder where our next meal is coming from. We may have to pay mortgages and taxes, but we don’t live in abandoned houses with no heat. God has so richly blessed us—how might He use you to bless others?

Faith, Grand Blanc’s next time to serve at the Franklin Avenue Mission will be Jan. 7 and 9. Opportunities include preparing and serving food, mentoring children and youth, and visiting with guests. Donations of hats, mittens, and scarves for the children, to add to other gifts that will be provided by other churches, are also appreciated. Contact Sue Hooper to learn how to become involved.

Photo (c) evgenyatamanenko/iStock

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About the Author

Sue Hooper, Director of Music at Faith, Grand Blanc, finds great joy in all things musical. In her spare time you will find her with her family and friends. Or possibly curled up with a good book.

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