by Gordon Govier, MadisonChristians.com –
Lighthouse Church is not the first in Madison to offer a food pantry…or a Christian school. But few churches offer both in such a robust manner.
The newly built Extended Hands food pantry attached to the northwest end of the Lighthouse church and school building was dedicated with prayers and a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Thursday afternoon, May 18, 2023. The growing complex is located at 6402 Schroeder Road on Madison’s westside in what started out as a Rayovac office building, and then for many years served as the national office of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
Andy and Jenny Czerkas, the directors of the pantry, have been working to fight hunger in Madison for more than two decades and began offering a curbside pantry in the school parking lot during the COVID pandemic. Ninety percent of Lighthouse Christian School students come from low-income families. “It’s the perfect place to run a food pantry,” Andy said.
With a Dane County grant they were able to buy a refrigerated food truck, which they’ve been using the last three years. As important as that was, it limited the amount of food they were able to distribute, and sometimes they ran out before all of the families who came to get food were served. In addition, volunteers who helped with food distribution were out in the elements during the cold winter, rainy spring, and hot summer days.
They knew they needed more space to better serve the growing needs. When an addition was first proposed, construction was estimated at about $500,000. That seemed like an impossible barrier but they were encouraged to have faith in their vision. “This entire project has been an exercise in faith and trusting God,” Jenny said.
Construction began on a cold winter day last December and ended up costing $780,000. Donations and foundation grants have brought in $662,000 so far. In March, when pandemic-related support ended for many people, demand for the food pantry increased even greater. “Six thousand households have been served in the past year,” said Lighthouse pastor Marcio Sierra.
Sierra listed a number of Madison churches which donated to the food pantry construction project. Pastors of two of them–Harold Zimmick, of Asbury United Methodist Church, and Tom Flaherty, of City Church–offered prayers as part of the ceremony.
Through the dedication of Marcio Sierra, Andy and Jenny Czerkas, many dedicated teachers and administrators, and many parents and volunteers, Lighthouse is indeed one of the brightest lights on the westside of Madison.
Wisconsin State Journal reports on what’s happening at The River, the northside food pantry started by Andy and Jenny Czerkas almost two decades ago.
More on Andy and Jenny Czerkas and Lighthouse Church from our archives:
Working Together for the Glory of God
Baptisms at Lighthouse Christian School – And the Rest of the Story
VP Mike Pence gives shout-out to Madison’s Lighthouse Christian School
Lighthouse Christian School moving to bigger digs after voucher-fueled enrollment growth
Jenny and Andy Czerkas Win Jefferson Award
Couple dedicated to helping the poor at River Food Pantry — with food, household items and prayer, if requested