Apostle Paul’s word to the church at Ephesus ring true when it comes to the Shower Plus Ministry (SPM) at the First Presbyterian Church of Garden Grove (FPCGG), “To God – whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine!” What started with a simple shower for a man named Alan Bartley in October of 2011 has blossomed into a ministry that continues to exceed expectations, like the receipt of a $20,000 grant from Los Ranchos Presbytery with a matching grant from the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii so a Program Coordinator could be hired! Carol Knoch is an answer to Pastor Cheryl Raine’s prayer, as she moves to Redlands to accept a new call.

But, lets back up because during the first couple of years of this ministry, Alan was a one-man show. But, on Easter Sunday 2014, Alan had a heart attack. The congregation came to Alan’s assistance and kept the ministry running in his absence, as he recovered. This experience began the transformation of the ministry and the whole church got more involved. In April of 2015 the ministry transferred from Alan to Session’s Outreach Ministry under the leadership of Pastor Cheryl. The ministry was renamed the Shower Plus Ministry, as the ministry had grown way beyond a hot cup of coffee and a hot shower as well as way beyond the resources of FPCGG. At the end of 2015 a $6,000 matching grant from the challenge fund helped the ministry install a used washer and dryer to handle some of the towels generated by all of the showers taken each Tuesday and Thursday.

A call for volunteers was made at the November 2015 Presbytery meeting and Canyon Hills Presbyterian Church responded to the call. Without their capable assistance the ministry might very well have had to close. Yet, God was work in us doing more than we could ask or imagine, as we kept sharing our stories. Here is one that makes us all smile. Sue came to the ministry struggling with alcohol addiction. With our support she had the courage to enroll in a Salvation Army program. Six months later we went to her graduation and she now manages a Jersey Sub and has her own apartment! This ministry is changing lives one at a time.

Partnerships abound with Canyon Hills PC volunteers, while St. Mark PC collects hotel sized toiletries. Food Finders connected us with St. Jude’s Hopsital and food is rescued every Monday and Wednesday, so that casseroles can be prepared and served every Tuesday and Thursday. We rescue baked goods every Wednesday morning from a local Costco. St. Columban’s has three cooks that show up on Thursday mornings to cook breakfast! Orange County Health Services learned about our ministry from those struggling with homelessness and now they are part of our ministry, too! They help connect participants with needed resources, such as public health nurses or mental health services every Tuesday morning. A local business man in Orange recently called after hearing our story through his wife and asked how his small business could support this ministry for the holidays!

As the baton for this ministry is passed to Carol Knoch, our new Program Coordinator, rest assured that God will continue to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine!

How would you like to be part of beginning to end the cycle of homelessness one life at a time through the simple hospitality of a hot shower? With anticipation of the lives that will be transformed through this ministry, contact the church at fpcgg@fpcgg.org or Carol Knoch at carol.knoch1@gmail.com “To God be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end! Amen.”