The Avenue Outreach Center opens

The Avenue Church’s Outreach Center opened Thursday on the church campus in Talbott. Shoppers were quickly into the center selecting items from the clothing store located in the Outreach Center.

“If God can get blessings through us, he’ll get it to us,” The Avenue Church Pastor Justin Graham said. “People are going to pull up on this property, get food for their family and it’s going to be an answered prayer. We’re thankful to be a part of that.”

The Avenue Church, located on West Andrew Johnson Highway in Talbott, added another tentacle to its ministry Thursday with the opening of The Avenue Outreach Center in the building that once housed The Avenue’s sanctuary. The Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce also held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening.

The Outreach Center houses a thrift store, clothing store and grocery for those who need these things.

The Avenue Church’s Pastor Justin Graham said that poverty in Morristown is 27%.

“That’s double the national average,” Graham said. “For us to be the church, this is being the church, to be a resource to people who are in need. We want to be the church for people in times of need because life can be really hard. We want to be that resource for people when it comes to food, and clothes.

“Thank you to every person at The Avenue Church for making this happen,” Graham said. “It’s really exciting what God is doing. These are miracles for people.”

According to Graham, things came together for the grand opening over the last three weeks. The church has gathered $8,500 of food totaling 10,200 items for 8,600 pounds.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without our dream team,” Graham said. “They have put in countless hours, in fact, they have put in more than 100 hours over the last several weeks. It’s just been incredible.”

Director of Outreach Michael Buccafurni thanked his team for their help.

“I just want to thank you guys for being here. It’s a great day,” Buccafurni said. ‘This is something I know in my heart I prayed about for such a long time. To see it come to fruition is humbling and exciting. God has such big plans for this church. This building is an extension of that building over there.”

Buccafurni said that God, through the church, preaches “love God, love people.”

“This is a tangible way to love people, but we’re going to take it a step further and go beyond a box of food,” he said. “We’ll help plan meals with the box of food. We’re going to give them opportunities to be discipled, mentored and counseled because there’s a lot of hurting people in this county, community and region. We want to further than anybody else. We need to get to that next level if people are going to have changed lives.”

Graham said that clothing donated are either like-new or gently used.

“We asked people not to bring in anything they wouldn’t wear themselves,” Graham said. “We want to have people be able to pick out clothes that they can be proud of. That their kids can wear to school and be proud of. Everything you see here is because of the love of the people of this church. I’m so proud and thankful for everybody at The Avenue.

“I’m thankful to everybody at The Avenue Church. I’m thankful to be part of this,” Graham said. “I’m honored to be able to stand here with you all. We want God to get the glory in all of this. We want to help make a difference in people’s lives. We don’t just ‘go’ to church at The Avenue, we want to be ‘the’ church and this is a part of that.”

Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce President Steve Amos said that the community is supportive.

“Thank you so much for what you do for the community,” Amos said. “We’re just so excited to learn a little more about the outreach center and reaching out to the community. We have a loving and giving community here. The Avenue is just a big piece of that.”

Amos said that God’s blessings are meant to be poured out.

“If you hoard God’s blessings up, they become stale,” he said. “They become stagnant and stale. They’re meant to pour out and there is no ending.”

Graham announced that the 10,000 items in the food pantry is being matched by a local company.