Ministry, Fun and Community Building in Montana
Greg Kasper, Whitefish, Montana
I've headed the Equal Exchange and Lutheran World Relief Coffee Project at Christ Lutheran Church in Whitefish, Montana for the past seven years. I have persisted, enjoyed and flourished in this ministry for a few reasons.
Reason #1: This coffee project helps my faith grow through mission work. By selling Equal Exchange products, I am helping small farmers around the world live a better life while seeking to fulfill Jesus' command to use our time and talents to help others that are less fortunate.
Reason #2:This ministry is fun! I like talking to people, answering questions and selling something they will love. Equal Exchange has such excellent products—I don't have to talk someone into buying something as the quality speaks for itself. It is a satisfying feeling coming home after a sale with a lot less product than I went to church with.
Reason #3: It's a great way to meet people who are visiting our church and make them feel welcome. Visitors ask what the ministry is about and I explain that their purchase counts twice by supporting small farmers and Lutheran World Relief. For each pound of Fair Trade coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar and snacks sold, Equal Exchange donates $.20 to LWR's Small Farmer Fund. These programs provide the tools and training that small-scale coffee farmers need to improve their enterprises and make a better life for themselves and their families.
Reason #4: I knew many regular attendees before but this ministry has given me a chance to know them better. I sell every three weeks but if someone needs a product between sales, I will make every effort possible to get it to them. I may leave their purchase at the church office, bring it on Sunday or even offer them the option to stop by our home. Our table gets so busy with customers I have had to recruit help. My daughter Kayleigh helps most days but other folks from the congregation have volunteered as well.
Coffee—this seemingly small thing—has helped create bonds with new folks and strengthen those with people I've known for years. This ministry has helped me build a stronger sense of community in my church in a fun way while seeking to fulfill the word of God by supporting those less fortunate than myself.