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Santa Barbara Community Church Members’ Faith Guides Philanthropy

Congregation gives to local, international causes with community farm, youth programs and nonprofit partnerships

With Cathedral Peak in the background, Santa Barbara Community Church Pastors Benji Bruneel, left, and Reed Jolley enjoy a brief break in this week’s stormy weather. Click to view larger
With Cathedral Peak in the background, Santa Barbara Community Church Pastors Benji Bruneel, left, and Reed Jolley enjoy a brief break in this week’s stormy weather.  (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Guided by their faith, members of Santa Barbara Community Church are committed to making a difference in lives close to home and far away.  

Santa Barbara Community Church has been serving the community since it was established in September 1979. It continues to work on local and international projects to improve the lives of others. 

Pastor Reed Jolley said the church talks about “giving as a response to God’s love and care for us,” and the church's generosity relates to messages in the Gospel.

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“We assure the church God doesn’t need our money, but we need to be generous with it and become regular givers as a response to the Gospel,” said Jolley. “Our financial giving is an act of worship and a demonstration of our trust that our faithful God will continue to provide for our needs.”

Recently, the church partnered with the organization Feed My Starving Children for its annual food drive. “We packaged and paid for 108,000 meals that will be sent overseas to feed those who are literally hungry,” said Jolley, who has been with the church for 37 years. 

Associate Pastor Benji Bruneel said he was heartened that “the church community rallied around this project for the sake of blessing others with food.”

While the church works to improve lives abroad, it works even harder to enrich the lives of children and families in Santa Barbara. Church members reach out to young people through two programs, Querencia and Royal Family KIDS, that provide mentoring and afterschool support to students and foster youth.

Querencia was started by two church members and it has had a tremendous impact on the lives of local kids and their families, said Bruneel. Royal Family KIDS “invests in foster youth, many of whom have experienced significant trauma through their time in the system and partners them with caring adults who serve as mentors and champions.” 

Santa Barbara Community Church also focuses its efforts on families and homeless individuals through the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission and frequent meal services at Alameda Park.

“We teach that (Santa Barbara) should be a better place because we are here,” said Jolley. “Jesus tells his followers they are the salt of the earth. Salt, in the first century acted as a preservative. We want, as a church, to help preserve the best things in our society and culture.”

The church uses its land to provide for people throughout Santa Barbara with its community farm on the property. Many of the crops harvested provide additional food to local nonprofit organizations.

“The food grown on the farm is given away through local organizations to help bless families here that suffer from food insecurity and hunger,” said Bruneel. “It's a remarkable use of that land and has been a great blessing to many.”

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Noozhawk contributing writer Kellie Kreiss can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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