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Five Loaves, Two Fish, Twelve Volunteers

Growing a Relational Food Ministry

Elizabeth Mae Magill • March 2020

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Sixty-two percent of food pantries and meal programs in the United States are faith-based. Most of these ministries are transactional; people needing food interact with church volunteers to earn access to direct service.

Elizabeth Magill advocates relational ministry as a better model for food ministry. People donating food or money eat with the people who need food and get to know them as they serve alongside them. Those needing food share all aspects of the ministry, including planning, setting up, leading, serving, and cleaning. As volunteers become better acquainted with those they serve, they can form deep, meaningful relationships, creating a new way to be the church.

Five Loaves, Two Fish, Twelve Volunteers tells the stories of eight churches that share food ministry with people who need their services. Full of practical advice, this book emphasizes that building relationships and offering radical welcome is more important work for churches than efficiency or order. It helps congregations evaluate their outreach and advises them on how to do it differently.


Elizabeth Mae Magill is pastor of Ashburnham Community Church in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. She is a missioner to the affiliates of Ecclesia Ministries (the network of outdoor churches in the United States). Magill holds a doctor of ministry from Brite Divinity School, a master of divinity from Episcopal Divinity School, and a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University.

ISBN: 978-0-8358-1915-2

Kindle ISBN: 978-0-8358-1916-9

EPub ISBN: 978-0-8358-1917-6

Imprint: Upper Room

Pub Date: 20200301

Trim Size: 6 in (w) x 9 in (h) x in (d)

Page Count: 176

BISAC Categories: RELIGION / Christian Living / Social Issues

BISAC1: REL012110

BISAC2: REL012120

BISAC3: REL045000