Submitted by Linda Hughes
Oceans of Grace, located in the charming historic building at 118 Division St., is an outreach ministry of First Evangelical Lutheran Church of East Greenwich. Created in 2004 as the doctoral project of Pastor Linda Forsberg, it is designed to reach out to the community, especially to those who have no church community, to those who perhaps have been wounded by “church,” or to those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” The organization has spent 17 years ministering to peoples’ physical and spiritual needs.
Oceans of Grace has held an annual Christmas dinner for those in the community who may be homeless, lonely, or without family to celebrate. Again this year, it will provide a comprehensive Christmas gift giveaway program that enables low income or financially strapped parents to shop, pick out and wrap personalized gifts for their children. Funding for this heart-warming project is provided by community donations.
The organization recently became home of the East Greenwich Teen Center on Friday evenings, a program organized by Bob Houghtaling, the coordinator of the East Greenwich Drug Prevention Coalition. The hope is to expand the opportunity for after-school activities, with upcoming basement renovations to include a quiet homework area, along with pool and air hockey tables.
A quilting group meets on Wednesday mornings, and completed quilts are sold to raise money for the homeless or donated directly to the homeless. Pastor Linda Forsberg and many church members facilitate services for the homeless through the Church Beyond Walls that meets in Kennedy Plaza, Providence. Donations of socks, blankets, toiletries and non-perishable food are sought all year long. A group of teens with disabilities met during February vacation at Oceans of Grace and spent their time collecting and collating bags for those living on the streets.
The ReJOYce Thrift Shop accepts donations of gently used clothing to sell in their small shop located in the building. For a few dollars, shoppers can choose from a wide array of clothing, the money from which goes into an Interfaith Fund to meet the emergency needs of people who live in East Greenwich. Additionally, anyone who has financial hardship is able to select clothing free of charge.
Because of the isolation so many people have experienced, a community Bingo game is held every Wednesday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Although it was established originally for individuals with developmental disabilities who have been homebound due to the pandemic, anyone is welcome to attend. The prizes are small, but the social benefits are huge, and fun is had by all.
Administering to the spiritual needs of the community, Pastor Linda leads a Bible study on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. The exciting curriculum is currently studying world religions. Individual spiritual direction is also available if requested.
Oceans of Grace is being offered as a meeting place for the whole community. Prior to the
pandemic, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous, and other organizations used the building. It is available to any nonprofit group for only a donation, and available for rent as a venue for baby showers, family Christmas gatherings, and office Christmas parties.