Bread Breakers

In the early days of the pandemic, New Dover United Methodist Church in Edison, New Jersey, ceased its in-person activities to prevent spreading the virus. But the church’s congregants’ desire to serve remained strong.

 “We’re surrounded by a lot of urban communities where there’s need,” says Pastor Chuck Coblentz. “But when the pandemic hit, the need became much greater. People from the church were saying, ‘Hey, we can’t come to church, but we want to do something. What can we do?’”

That is when congregant Brian Richards approached Coblentz with an idea: Make sandwiches for those in need. 

Richards says he was inspired after talking with the head of a local homeless shelter. 

“I asked, ‘What can we as a church do to support you?’ And he looked at me and said, ‘Sandwiches.’” 

Coblentz named the church’s new effort the Bread Breakers Ministry. Volunteers started out making around 50 sandwiches a week, but they quickly broke their own record. 

“There have been weeks when we’ve made almost 1,500 sandwiches,” Coblentz says. He estimates the ministry’s total meal output since 2020 is over 100,000. 

The ministry is still going strong. On Friday mornings, volunteers gather in the church’s fellowship hall to make the sandwiches, from lunch meat and cheese to peanut butter and jelly. They place two sandwiches in each bag plus condiments. They also include side items like fruit cups, chips and bottled water, paid for with donations.

Afterward, the lunches are delivered to several local nonprofits and people on the street. 

Bread Breaker Ministry volunteers include not just New Dover members, Richards says. “We have Jewish friends who help us out. A mosque got involved. Amazing partnerships developed.” 

For his part, Coblentz says he views feeding people as a spiritual act. 

“We don’t separate that from the spiritual aspect of the proclaimed Word. It’s all connected.”

Gail Allyn Short
Gail Allyn Short

Gail Allyn Short is freelance writer in Birmingham, Alabama. She leads a nursing home ministry and teaches a Bible study class for new believers at Integrity Bible Church.