Havasu’s churches create community

October 12, 2018

Lake Havasu City’s churches share the good news, and they put their faith into action for the benefit of the people in their local community.

Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic parish has been feeding the hungry in body and spirit for the last 17 years. Hot meals are served on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30-5:30 in the Holy Family Parish Center behind the church. Hot take-home meals or bagged lunches are served on Saturdays. All are welcome, from the homeless to struggling families to seniors on a fixed income.

Diane Cichinsky, chair of the soup kitchen advisory council, has worked with the soup kitchen since its inception. “Although we use the term ‘soup kitchen,’ a typical meal is roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, a hot vegetable, salad, rolls, and dessert.”

The volunteers also provide a take-home table packed with dairy products, produce, baked goods, shoes, bedding, toiletries, and donated clothes. Cichinsky appreciates the generous support the soup kitchen receives from St. Mary’s Food Bank, which coordinates food deliveries from Phoenix and the Grocery Rescue Program. Catholic Relief Services and Mohave County also provide funding and support.

“The donations from parishioners and community members have enabled the ministry to thrive,” she said. “We are grateful for our faithful volunteers and for the able leadership of our supervisor, Linda Nitschke.”

Calvary Baptist Church’s “Serve Our Schools” is a work program at 11 school campuses. According to Rev. Robert Smith, the goal is “to bless the community and schools.” He said 600 volunteers completed 100 projects last year to improve the school properties.

The Main Street Halloween event is another important project. “Each year, Calvary sets up a game booth, provides bounce houses and other family-friendly activities,” Smith noted. “Members of Calvary are very supportive of providing a safe place for children on Main Street to have fun and get candy.” In 2017, members donated an estimated 3,000 pounds of candy.

Living Word Family Church hosts a veteran’s dinner every November for about 100 active and retired military personnel. “We present the Marine Corps League Detachment No. 757 with a $3,000 check each year,” Rev. Maureen Collins said. “It has become our honor to serve our community with them. A portion goes to their toy drive. The rest goes to help take care of any vet in need, regardless of the branch of service.”

The Rev. Dr. David Bybee of Community Presbyterian Church and Rev. Jon Maki of Havasu Alliance Church run Awana on Wednesday nights from 6-7:30 pm at CPC. On any given Wednesday, 50 to 100 kids gather to memorize Bible passages while developing leadership and social skills. Their ages range from three to 18 and are divided into five groups by age. They enjoy playing games and having fun besides learning verses. Church membership isn’t required.

The name Awana is derived from the first letters of “Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed.” The phrase is based on a verse in the Bible, 2 Timothy 2:15. Awana is an International Christian nonprofit founded in 1950 to help “reach kids, equip leaders and change the world for God.”

Rev. Kay Zimmerman manages City on a Hill International Church, which has a Youth Adventure Club on Thursdays open to all children. Food is provided. There is usually a short lesson geared toward children followed by a playtime.

“We had a fun event and invited all the neighborhood kids. We fed them and showed them we cared,” she said. “After that, some began knocking at our door.”

Rev. Tom Malay, an associate pastor at her church, said, “Pastor Kay is a real advocate for children because they’re under so much pressure.”

Zimmerman has been President of the London Bridge Christian Churches for the last 10 years, “seeking God for His vision for the city.” The LBCC got the idea to show their appreciation for the city employees by inviting them for a free breakfast. Another project was “Light the Fire” where the churches came together and “covered the city in prayer for a solid week.” Each church was responsible for a 24-hour period for prayer.

These are only a few examples of what some of the faith communities are doing. There are many churches in the city conducting similar programs, all designed to make Havasu a better place.

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