In order to initiate change in the world, one must begin with an idea. Nate Loucks, lead pastor of State Street Community Church and president of The Pax Center, had an idea and has brought it to life. He planted his church five years ago with the core value of neighborhood engagement.
Getting to know the needs of those around them in the community, the church opened food and clothing pantries and began hosting a weekly community meal that serves about 100 people every Monday. Everyone is welcome to come regardless of social or economic class, and everyone just sits and eats together, sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company.
Loucks shared, “We believe that when people can be brought around a table together and share a meal together, the things and the issues that seem to divide us — whether it’s social, economic, religious, gender — kind of dissipate when you’re breaking bread and sharing a meal together. It’s just this really beautiful, redemptive picture of what good neighboring looks like.”
As this initiative has grown, it has required more space. A building was donated to State Street Community Church, and after months of renovation, The Pax Center is ready to provide such a space.
“It increased our space so much from the church,” Loucks stated. “At the church, we had to take everything down every week and set it up for the community center, and then Saturday after our food pantry, we’d take everything down and set it up for church. So this allows us to have the right space to do both.”
Loucks hopes that The Pax Center, located at 605 Washington Street, will provide a central hub in downtown La Porte for a wide variety of people.
He said, “It’s always good whenever there’s restoration within a building or within an area, because beautification is very important to a city. But there are a lot of different types of people that come in here, so I think it’s also a great place for the city to get involved in diversity.”
Along with moving the food and clothing pantries, the table fellowship dinners, and the church’s annual community garden to The Pax Center, Loucks is furthering the neighborhood initiative by adding a resource center with computers donated by IU Health La Porte Hospital. They are partnering with the hospital and United Way to help those in need of online connection for jobs, emails, etc. In addition, people can visit the United Way website, where they can find all of the social non-profit companies in La Porte.
“If somebody needs help with something like an electric bill, it will connect them to somebody that can help,” Loucks stated. “There’s a partnership and integration that can help connect all of the really great non-profits that are doing tremendous work in La Porte through this place.”
Pax, which means “Peace” in Latin, was chosen to be the name of the center because the redemptive and calming idea of peace in this chaotic world is exactly what Loucks wants The Pax Center to bring to people’s lives.
“We believe that our calling as Christians is to be proclaimers of restoration, and that which is broken can be made well again," he shared. "We hope that in all the chaos that everyone feels within the world, whether it’s familial, whether it’s economic, whether it’s social—whatever the chaos is—that, perhaps for a moment when they’re in here breaking bread together with other people, they can feel the peace of community.”
The Pax Center has been up and running for several weeks, but there will be an official ribbon cutting ceremony sponsored by the La Porte Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, April 28 at 10:00 am. The ceremony is open to the public.
For more information about The Pax Center, contact Executive Director Jason Clemons at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (219) 575-7842.