Sunrise UMC serves its own ‘backyard’


By Nancy Edwards

A local church has been serving the needs of the homeless and those who suffer from hunger in their very own neighborhood.

The congregation of Sunrise United Methodist Church focuses their efforts on helping those who live and attend school in the Geist Community and Lawrence Township.


“Food insecurity is a real need, especially for a number of children in our community,” said Matt Lipan, lead pastor of Sunrise United Methodist Church. “There are a significant number of Lawrence Township students who are considered homeless. It can be easy to assume this area does not have significant needs and yet we know there are plenty in Lawrence Township.”

The church actively partners with The Sharing Place, a nonprofit organization on Sunnyside Road that offers free food, clothing and hygiene products to families in need. In addition, congregants tend to a community garden housed at Sunrise. The produce from the garden supports The Sharing Place by “providing fresh produce to individuals who might not otherwise have access,” Lipan said. “Our garden has produced nearly 2,000 pounds of fresh produce over the past two years.”

Future goals for the church include connecting with the needs of area schools, including Oaklandon, Sunnyside and Amy Beverland Elementary Schools, “because they are located in our own ‘backyard,’” Lipan said. Currently, Sunrise assists with SHARE, “an organization that focuses on creating a safe place for Lawrence Township students during school breaks to learn, build relationships, serve, exercise and have a great time,” he said.

Sunrise Church, which has operated as a satellite campus of Castleton United Methodist Church for the past decade, will celebrate its transition as a new, separate United Methodist Church called Gateway Community Church. Gateway’s launch will be held on July 1 at Sunrise’s current location, 7551 Oaklandon Road.

Several free, family-friendly events open to the community will be held throughout the summer to honor the church’s launch. For more information, please visit or call 823.2794.


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