Bread of Life Community Ministry in Palatka
By Page Walwik – Seminary Intern at FPC, Palatka

Along the banks of the St. John’s River flows a community of people that have all found themselves at the same bend. Beneath the currents of life, Putnam County has been touched with a timeless opportunity in which God’s love can flood the souls of people through the ministry of Bread of Life (BOL). First Presbyterian Church (FPC) of Palatka, FL, became the vessel to steer the ship under the leadership of Transitional Pastor Cliff Lyda. Having sailed this route before, Lyda knew the river flowed fast; therefore, he poured himself into the tide and gathered everyone on board to row the ship. In 1989, BOL began at FPC and, as the river flowed with leadership changes and a different location, BOL went through some rough waters. Today, they have been thrown a life preserver and given a fresh start. BOL, a nonprofit organization of Putnam County, has returned back home to FPC. 

The community has been instrumental in the success of BOL, with FPC as just one part of this ministry. Within a few months, BOL went from serving 20 people to 80 on any given day. Not only were people coming in to be served, but the outpouring of volunteers, local businesses, and individual families providing meals and helping hands on a daily basis has truly embraced this as a community ministry. The third photo reflects the community support for the Bread of Life program (pictured are l-r Putnam County Sheriff deputies, Bread of Life Board Member, Pastor Cliff Lyda, and Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach).

Lyda reflects, “In all my 35 years of being a pastor, I have never seen the Holy Spirit move in such a way that involves an entire community of churches, families, and businesses. It’s unimaginable to have something self-start from the ground up. What an honor to serve in this moment at First Presbyterian Church Palatka or, as known by the locals, ‘The church on the River’.” 

Thank you for responding to the needs of your community!