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Lakeshore churches unite to better serve community

First Presbyterian, First Reformed United Church of Christ and Saint John's United Church of Christ joined together to serve a free, weekly dinner for the community, July 2017. (WLUK)

MANITOWOC (WLUK) -- Three area churches in Manitowoc are joining forces and making a difference in the community they serve.

Now, even more volunteers can help with events like a free, weekly community dinner.

It serves 70 to 100 plates of food.

"Giving makes me feel good and I think it makes all these guys feel good. They're doing something. They're doing a service to the community and that's really what it's all about," said Mark Lehman, volunteer cook.

"If you can give time, if you have time, everyone should do what they can, to help other people out," said Andrew Goble, volunteer.

The three churches form the Manitowoc cooperative ministry.

A church leader says the new endeavor has been a success.

"By January, we had signed a covenant together, that we'd be working together. And we evaluated that in June, six months in, and people were so excited about it, they said, 'let's do this for at least three more years,'" said Reverend Matt Sauer, Manitowoc pastor.

Two pastors now serve First Presbyterian, First Reformed United Church of Christ and Saint John's United Church of Christ.

"It's tearing down the divisions we have as denominations, and individual churches, and it's building more bridges," said Reverend Judine Duerwaechter, Manitowoc pastor.

The cooperative formed about six months ago and already there has been some incredible feedback from members.

"She says, now in just this six months, I come back, and I can see, there's this real energy, this vitality. People really see a future now, where before they didn't," Sauer said.

The hope is that this energy continues to grow, and that events, like the community dinner, could expand and take place more often.

"It gives them a chance to come together to socialize, have a meal that they may not get somewhere else. It's just a really great thing," said Lehman.

New projects may also be taken on, or created, which will expand their reach.

"It allows us to have a much larger voice, in making a difference in transforming the world, but more specifically this community," said Sauer.

"It allows us to share our resources and we're better together, no matter what," said Duerwaechter.

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