Commissioned to serve

The All Nations Seventh Day Adventist Church hands out free meals each Sunday

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — On Sunday afternoons following church service, it is typical for families to scurry about the city, headed to Sunday dinner. At one time, the building located at 4200 34th St. S was a Thai restaurant where many families would often go; however, the restaurant has long been gone, yet cars are still pulling in to order dinner.

Signs along the roadway offered answers to the delayed traffic and increased car volume in the parking lot. All Nations Seventh Day Adventist Church purchased the building and, in June 2020, completed renovations but have not begun worship service due to COVID-19 restrictions.

One thing the pandemic did was bring out the goodness in the heart of people in Pinellas County. On a particular Sunday, plates of rice, mixed vegetables, and chicken filled to-go boxes for families in the community.

“We want to make a difference in the community, and what better difference than to feed those who both have need and appreciate the service of feeding,” said Sharon Francis, the head elder of All Nations Seventh Day Adventist and the leader of the Making Friends for Jesus Ministry, the group providing Sunday meals.

All Nations Seventh Day Adventist started in 1987 on Fifth Avenue and 40th Street South. The current Pastor, Dr. John Mills, hails from Spanish Town, the capital and largest town in the parish of St. Catherine in the historic county of Middlesex, Jamaica.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology, Master of Arts in Divinity, and a doctorate in ministry. He originally came to the Tampa Bay area in 1992. He then spent eight years in the Ft. Lauderdale area pastoring before returning to the Bay area in 2011 to lead the All Nations flock.

The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ as they are his disciples. Parishioners are challenged to “learn from Jesus, live like Jesus, and serve like Jesus.”

“It is important to model the life of Jesus,” stated Mills. “Providing a hot cooked meal is meeting an essential need in the community, and that is what we want to do. Sometimes because of many responsibilities like taking care of children or even their elderly loved ones, people don’t feel like cooking.”

Now 29 years from its beginning and several locations later, the church began renovating the current location on 34th Street South after selling the previous worship center. In Sept. 2020, the church had a goal to distribute 100 meals to families on the last Sunday of each month. One year later, the church continues to feed, and last month 350 people were benefactors.

“The beauty is the ladies cook for the community as if they are cooking for their own families,” said Angelica White, a founding church member.

The pastor’s approach is to assess the needs in the community and then do ministry based on the needs. Mills projects re-opening for worship service in September after installing a state-of-the-art audio-visual system.

The pandemic may have delayed worship service in the building, but the heart of the congregation continues to serve the community. Car after car pulls in to partake of All Nation’s kindness and delectable Sunday dinners.

To reach Dexter McCree, email dmccree@theweeklychallenger.com

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