Weekly Feature

2018-01-31 / Front Page

CCC plans big meal pack on Super Bowl Sunday


This Sunday, roughly 66,000 people will pack U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII, a spectacle of American sport that transfixes millions of viewers worldwide and has become an unofficial national holiday for Americans.

Hours before kickoff and nearly 1,000 miles away at 5375 Old Goodrich Road, the Clarence Church of Christ will attempt to pack enough meals to feed as many people as will be watching the game inside the stadium.

The idea for the ambitious meal-packing initiative came to Pastor Mike Bowers while he was distributing meals on a mission trip in Honduras.

“I told myself then that when I got home, I would see if we could do something like that as a church,” he said.

The CCC congregation performed the task for the first time four years ago and managed to pack 20,000 meals, but Pastor Bowers believed that the group could aspire to even greater heights.

A lifelong Bills fan and once a season ticket holder, the idea dawned on him to try and pack one meal for every seat at the Super Bowl.

“This is a great way to see people unite, to see the old and the young work together,” he said.

Sunday’s meal pack will be run by the International Disaster Emergency Service, a Christian organization that organizes shipments of nutritionally complete meal packets to international mission partners, totaling around 700,000 or more servings per year. IDES also works to provide support for victims of natural disasters, offering food, building supplies and water in addition to working to repair damaged homes.

CCC is looking to raise $16,500 in order to pack the 66,000 meals, according to Pastor Bowers, who credits the church’s parishioners who have “dug deep” to find the money.

“Each meal costs about 25 cents by the time you put the ingredients in, and that includes the other end of it — getting the meal to the person in the underdeveloped country,” he said.

This quarter-per-serving is divided into segments that cover all of the dried food-stuff costs, the cost of the supplies, the operational costs and all of the national and international shipping costs once the meals arrive in-country to IDES’ mission partners.

Pastor Bowers has led mission trips for more than 25 years to a number of locations, and in doing so, he believes that the experiences offer the kind of faith strengthening that can only be found in a country less fortunate than one’s own. It’s why he remains adamantly in favor of serving more through actions than words — a quality that he has sought to instill in his own congregation.

Pastor Bowers points to a Bible passage, James 1:22, which reads, in part, “Do not merely listen to the word, but do what it says.”

“We’re ‘doers.’ We don’t just want to be people who listen,” he says.

When game time arrives on Sunday, Pastor Bowers, like much of the country, will be fixated on a television, rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles. As he puts it, his affinity lies with “anybody else who plays against the Patriots.” Yet the most meaningful experience of the day will occur in its early hours, away from the TV, in a church gymnasium among other service minded individuals.

“Our people are just incredible. As soon as we get done, we have people asking, ‘When are we going to do this again?’” he said. “They’re just so passionate about serving and helping people, and it’s so gratifying to be around them.”

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