The congregation officially disbanded in 2007, but volunteers continued to operate the food ministry, which became known as Park View Community Mission. A pantry was introduced, known as Food for Families. It is now Lynchburg's largest, and the largest client-choice pantry in the state west of Richmond. In 2017 the Mission received tax-exempt status by the IRS and became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the goal of helping our neighbors lift themselves out of poverty.
To do this, a Community Resource Center was opened and classroom space was utilized to begin teaching basic nutrition and homemaking skills. The problem of hunger among students was recognized, and the Food for Thought weekend backpack program was launched in 2018. Additional courses were brought under a program called the Life Skills Institute in 2019. That was also the year clothing distribution received a new focus. A few racks of free clothing had been a part of the pantry, but increased demand and a generous supply of donations meant relocating to a larger space and giving it a new name, the Clothing Connection.
Today, Park View's six programs continue to focus on offering help, healing, and hope, thanks to committed volunteers and supporters.
Park View Community Mission got its start in the basement of a church building that has a long history. It was originally constructed in 1857 on Church Street. In 1939, the building was purchased and relocated brick by brick to its current location. After River Ridge Mall was built in 1980, the economic center of Lynchburg shifted south to the Wards Road area. The property values in the midtown area began to decline while church membership was slowly dropping.
Still, the people of the church recognized that there was a need in the surrounding community. They began a Wednesday night dinner in 1996, with an open invitation to everyone. The mid-week meals program (which continues today as the Park View Cafe) expanded into food boxes for families in need.
Will you make it your mission to help us with ours?