One Saturday last October, shortly after midnight, a young, inebriated college student stumbled up to Brockport United Methodist Church’s “God Cookie Ministry” in Brockport, New York, says Jean Rowley.
“He couldn’t say his name, remember his friends or where they had gone, and he could no longer walk,” says Rowley. “We got him a chair and a bucket, and he purged himself. I honestly believe that we may have saved a life.”
Through the God Cookie Ministry, the congregants distribute cookies, brownies, coffee and cocoa free of charge to local college students walking from the nearby pubs past the 108-member church between midnight and 3 a.m. They volunteer on Saturday mornings after major test periods when students are most likely to drink heavily. The church serves more than 300 students each night, Rowley says.
She came up with the idea last summer, she says, when the church’s youth group camped out overnight on the church grounds to experience homelessness and raise money. During the experiment, Rowley, Pastor Meg Morin and other adults had to steer several intoxicated students away from the camp.
“I said, ‘Wouldn’t this be a prime location to reach out to the college students?’” Rowley says.
Church members soon began volunteering to bake brownies and cookies, buy snacks and stand on the street to hand them out, Morin says.
An intoxicated student dubbed it the “God Cookie Ministry,” but the volunteers resist preaching, Morin and Rowley say. They simply tell students that they are loved and admonish them to be careful.
“We don’t judge these kids,” Rowley says. “We just try to help them through.”
Morin says they have also given some students rides to their dorms.
“It has sent a positive message to the community, the police department and the shop owners that we’re not pew sitters.”