Open Arms (OA) moves back to the Harnish Center

The Trustees were tasked with possible renovations to the De Leon property by the Ministry Leadership Council (MLC) in early 2022. As the team did their research, they met two major barriers: cost and zoning. These barriers will prevent us from using the building to house our beloved Open Arms ministry. While this is disappointing, God always provides a way.

We are happy to announce that Open Arms will be moving into the Harnish Center for a lunch meal beginning March 5, 2023.

The meal will be served from 11:30-12:30 p.m. each Sunday. Guests will be invited to arrive beginning at 11:15 a.m.

As the leadership teams of the church have been preparing for this shift, some great questions have arisen, you might have some questions, too. If your question isn’t listed, please click here, and we will answer as soon as possible.


Q: Will the entire space be needed?

A: The entire space is available for that ministry as needed. The Open Arms Team is basing the set up on the foot print used during cold night shelters that have been held in the past several months. A portion of the chairs near the bathrooms/kitchen will be stacked and tables and plastic chairs will be setup.

Q: How will the Harnish Center be prepped in time for lunch to be served?

A: Volunteers will come into the space and stack chairs and set up tables. Time will be needed for the conclusion of fellowship taking place after the 9:30 a.m. service. Our best estimate is that set up would start around 10:45 a.m.

Q: What happens on special Sundays when wraparound services happen connected to Open Arms? (Such as Mission Smiles, Medical Clinic, and anything new that might be added.)

A: Those services will be operated in a different portion of the Harnish Center.

Q: What other needs/hospitalities should we anticipate for the guests?

  1. Newspapers on tables would be a nice addition.
  2. Quarterly decorations/holiday for the tables

Q: What happens if and when we need to start a second contemporary worship service at 11:00am?

A: Multiple options would be considered.

  1. The start time of lunch may be moved back 45-60 minutes.
  2. Alternative times for the two contemporary services (must be coordinated with other related functions such as youth ministry and nursery)
  3. Explore other locations for the ministry to be held.

Q: Will we begin collecting items for the Open Arms Ministry again?

A: No. 

Q: What are the current/future needs for storage? Will the current storage meet the needs of the ministry?

A: The team has been able to use the Missions closet and space allotted to them in the Harnish center Kitchen to meet their current needs.

Q: If guests arrive early, where will they be invited to wait?

A: We will invite them to wait along the Magnolia Ave side of the Harnish building.

Q: Will the Bible study continue, and where would it be held?

A: Yes, they will be meeting in the Harnish Center.

Q: Does the Open Arms team plan to have a presence on Azeele/Magnolia Ave in advance of lunch? If so, what time do they think would be practical?

A: Yes, Director of Missions Vicki Walker or an Open Arms volunteer will be there with the guests until they come inside. 

Q: Will students be able to volunteer during the new serving time?

A: Yes! We would love for students to sign up for a serving shift.

Q: How will this impact The Portico Community Meal?

A: The volunteers who lead this ministry want to assess the needs of the people they are serving. If a time change at The Portico makes sense, they will make it.

Q: Will we be preparing meals in the Harnish Center kitchen?

A: No, we will continue to serve prepared hot meals from Metropolitan Ministries.

Q: Will the new hours impact the security officer/team who is onsite and who patrols our property during the week?

A: Yes, we would have them start later in the morning. 

Q: Will our guests be able to use real table wear again?

A: Yes! We are thrilled to have close proximity to the dishwasher once again. Not to mention that we will be helping the environment. Win/win.

Q: How will this impact the neighbors around the church property?

  1. We think there is a positive impact on our neighbors since this ministry will take place indoors and food will be served inside and onsite.
  2. It may improve the invitation of the neighbors to serve at Open Arms; the later time might be great for people who like to sleep in.

Q: Can my small group or my family serve together at Open Arms?

A: Absolutely! Sign-up here.

Q:  Who will be making the final determination of how we move forward?

A:  Missions/Open Arms Leadership Team through the Program Executive Group.

Q: What is the Program Executive Group (PEG)?

A: This group makes programmatic decisions comprised of representatives from ministry lay leaders and staff from each of ministry area (Worship, Service, Spiritual Growth, Congregational Care, and The Portico along with three staff members). This was proposed by the Vision Implementation Team and approved by the MLC several years ago. They meet on an as-needed basis.

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