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Weekly breakfast ministry helps Greenville homeless

Eddie Jackson has been homeless for five years.

"It's hard—you've got to worry about the cops, where your next meal's coming from, got to sleep on the streets," Jackson said.

But one thing that keeps him going is the free hot breakfast he gets every Monday morning at Triune Mercy Center. For the past two years, rain or shine and even on holidays, Triune has hosted the free breakfast, a ministry organized by Bethel United Methodist Church, Simpsonville. Bethel, with help from a handful of other local churches, including their sister church, Ebenezer UMC, Greer, offers the weekly breakfast for anyone in need, no questions asked.

"I enjoy it," Jackson said, carefully peeling back the foil on his butter before stirring it into his grits. The grits, along with scrambled eggs, a variety of breakfast meats, fresh fruit, yogurt, hot coffee and real juice, keep him coming back week after week for a bit of sustenance before he heads out for the day, looking for work and any other way he can make it.

Your support of the World Service Fund apportionment helps local churches engage in ministry with the poor in order to transform their communities.

Jackson is one of about 9,300 people served at the breakfast ministry since it opened in 2015. Every Monday around 5 a.m., a team of volunteers show up at Triune to cook eggs and other breakfast food and prepare for the hundred or so people who come for breakfast at 7 a.m. And come they do, riding bikes or walking from the nearby shelters; the Salvation Army is two blocks north, and Miracle Hill's rescue mission is about a mile southwest.

Dennis Dease, member of Bethel, started the breakfast ministry there with his wife, Harriett, and fellow volunteer Jarrett, their close friend. The trio had volunteered together for seven years at the breakfast ministry offered by John Wesley UMC in downtown Greenville, but when that ministry closed in 2014, the Deases and Jarrett knew they needed to do something to keep it going. After all, Greenville's homeless population is on the rise, and as Dease said, "These guys often don't eat till lunch."

Jarrett and Dease approached the Rev. Deb Richardson-Moore, pastor of Triune Mercy Center, which is well known as a hub for helping the many homeless people in Greenville.

"This is where they are; you have to come where they are," Dease said.

The rest is history. Now two years strong, their ministry shows no sign of slowing down, and Dease is hoping they can soon expand their efforts to a second breakfast each week.

Even though Bethel is a small church, with just 36 average worship attendance each Sunday, that doesn't stop the congregation from dreaming big. The church is so much more than the size of its congregation, and the partnership is even bigger. Not only did they help support John Wesley's Breakfast Ministry for seven years, but they are also the main financial support for the Triune breakfast.

Jarrett said the breakfast ministry is a fulfilling way to help in the name of Jesus.

Jessica Brodie, editor, South Carolina United Methodist Advocate newspaper

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the World Service Fund is the financial lifeline to a long list of Christian mission and ministry throughout the denomination. Through the Four Areas of Focus churches are engaging in ministry with the poor which encourages them to be in ministry with their communities in ways that are transformative.