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story.lead_photo.caption Jennifer Rogers, right, and Terry Hogan put a meal into a bag for a to-go order Saturday during Liberty Road Baptist Church's Community Blessing Meal. This particular batch of meals was placed in a large plastic bin and driven to the Jefferson City Police Department. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

Taking a message of hope beyond the church walls. That was what members of Liberty Road Baptist Church wanted to do with their Community Blessing Meal on Saturday evening.

Nearly 90 meals were delivered, served at the church or sent out via a drive-thru set up at the church entrance. Among those getting meals were area law enforcement agencies such as the Jefferson City Police Department, Osage County Sheriff's Department and Troop F Headquarters of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Jennifer Rogers, wife of Pastor Bill Rogers, said members spent a month and a half putting the plans together for this event.

"At the beginning of this year, we had a strategic planning meeting, and we came up with the motto of 'Reaching Up, Reaching In and Reaching Out," Rogers said. "Reaching up is praising God, the reaching in is coming together as a church community, and the reaching out is to go out to the Jefferson City and Taos areas."

Once they came up with their goals, Rogers said they began to ask themselves if what they were doing aligned with the vision they had for the church. That's how they eventually came up with the idea for this meal.

"In the past, we've done trunk-or-treat events giving candy to the kids, and we asked ourselves 'Was that really serving the community as a whole?'" Rogers said. "For us, we decided the meal was better aligned with our vision."

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing events to be canceled or scaled back, Rogers said they took to social media to get the word out about the meal.

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"Whether or not you are a Christian, whether or not you go to church regularly, you've probably heard the story about how Jesus served 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fishes," she said. "Looking around this evening, you see that people have a passion for loving on other people. And people are hungry for hope right now, and something like this can show them how we serve others in the way we have been taught."

Even before the pandemic hit, Rogers said, the need was still there for people to know others care about them.

"We've also just recently started a food pantry, so if people need that when they reach out to us, we can do it," she added. "At the end of the day, it's really important that people know that somebody loves them. Food is a great love source."

Rogers said those who would like to learn more about future events the church will be doing to serve the community can text the word "learn" to 573-345-2659.

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