Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church (GMCHC) is led by Bishop Alfred A. Owens Jr., who began the ministry in 1966 and co-pastor, Dr. Susie C. Owens, who joined him in 1972. (Courtesy Photo)

By Marnita Coleman,
Special to the AFRO

Traditionally, when we think of hunger, images of children with swollen bellies from third-world countries come to mind. Not so in today’s time– food insecurity is a global epidemic and a growing concern in our nation.

In Washington, D.C., and the surrounding region, 33 percent of the population is considered food insecure and one-half of that amount is labeled severely food insecure.

Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church (GMCHC), located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Washington, D.C., has stepped into the arena to address the need to feed the hungry. Through one of its two outreach facilities, the Crowder Owens Food Bank, GMCHC has distributed 32,423 pounds of produce and served 92,058 meals.

After a six-month period, the change is palpable.

“We have been able to feed our community fresh produce like greens, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, and carrots,” said the Rev. Rodney L. Carter Jr., associate pastor of GMCHC. The Crowder Owens Food Bank has become the leader in Ward Five for the “most produce distributed” and “most meals distributed,” capturing two awards for doing so from Capital Area Food Bank, Washington, D.C.’s largest hunger relief organization.

“One of the pillars of our church is to embrace the community,” Rev. Carter explained. They are accomplishing that by way of outreach. Every week, on what is called “giving Tuesday,” from 12-2 p.m. at the Crowder Owens Food Bank, 600 W Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, fresh produce, meat, dairy, and meals are distributed. An onsite clothing boutique is open to the public as well. “Folks can browse freely and pick out what they need.”

Through partnership organizations, GMCHC’s second outreach facility, the Family Life Community Center across from the main campus offers job training including creating resumes, mock interviews, interview attire dos and don’ts, job placement and how to conduct yourself at a job. The facility also has a gym and basketball court.

“That is how we have connected with the community,” Rev. Carter said.

With a desire to meet people where they are, GMCHC recently held a heart-health, wellness checkup during Sunday worship. Blood pressures were taken, health materials were passed out and the guest physician scheduled appointments immediately following the morning program.

Although the population of Ward Five is only 90,380, they have seen an increase in numbers due to inflation and the aftermath of the pandemic.

“We’re seeing some working-class families struggling due to rent increases and things of that nature. We’ve seen more people from different walks of life utilizing our facilities.” Rev. Carter said, “GMCHC is happy to serve as many people as it can.”

Bishop Alfred A. Owens Jr. launched the ministry in 1966 and Co-Pastor Dr. Susie C. Owens joined him in 1972, when they were married. For 57 years, GMCHC has served the District of Columbia, dedicated to its mission to “exalt Christ, equip believers, and embrace the community.” The website conveys a family-focused environment with activities for everyone such as sports events, men’s prayer, marriage enrichment, and financial wellness.

On Jan. 14, Owens received the 2022 Joseph R. Biden Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award for volunteerism and impacting the community.