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Lunch crunch: Oklahoma City ministry goes mobile to deliver meals

Truth Baptist Church expands its free lunch ministry as part of a summer outreach to a targeted cluster of apartment complexes on NW 10 in west Oklahoma City.
by Carla Hinton Published: July 27, 2013

The Rev. Chad Clement makes a dramatic entrance each time he visits a cluster of west Oklahoma City apartments.

Children's eyes light up.

They chatter together in excitement and run to get their friends.

It isn't the former school bus Clement drives that captures the children's attention.

The pastor's popularity stems from what he carries: lunch.

“What'd you bring today?” a small boy asks as the doors to the bus swing open.

“Corn dogs,” Clement says — plus an apple, popcorn, cookies and juice.

“What are we having tomorrow?” another child wants to know.

“Chicken nuggets,” Clement answers.

Meals and ministry go hand-in-hand in this outreach being conducted by Truth Baptist Church.

Clement, the church's pastor, and his wife, Anna, longtime urban missionaries, started their summertime ministry when they moved to an apartment complex near the intersection of NW 122 and Pennsylvania in 2011. The couple committed themselves to connecting children to Christ beginning with one meal at a time.

The lunch ministry to the group of apartments quickly evolved into regular Sunday church services that began in the Clements' apartment and eventually moved to donated space at the nearby Artisan Ridge Apartments clubhouse. Clement said youths from other apartment complexes in the area — Grouse Run, Lincoln Green, Highland Ridge, The Village at Stratford and Rain Dance — also participate.

This summer, the couple expanded the summer meal ministry to a targeted stretch of apartment complexes along NW 10, between Meridian Avenue and Council Road.

Chad Clement said this area of the city, according to census data, has one of the state's highest concentrations of people living in poverty.

Clement said the goal of the new outreach is to meet tangible needs of the apartment residents in order to establish relationships. He said thus far, he and volunteers have befriended children from single-parent homes and those being raised by a grandparents as well as youths from two-parent homes.

Clement said the common denominator is need — adults seem to appreciate the church's interest, and they can use the help.

The 10th Street outreach includes Meridian Apartments, Wentwood at MacArthur, Terrace Apartments, Rockwell Plaza, Chestnut Hills and Heritage Apartments. Clement said between the new outreach and the complexes in the NW 122 and Pennsylvania area, church volunteers distribute about 500 lunches each Monday through Thursday. The lunch outreach began July 8 and ends Aug. 1, when most of the children will return to school.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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