The African Methodist Episcopal Church in Alabama will feed 5,000 people, believers and nonbelievers, on Saturday to symbolically re-enact the biblical account of Jesus feeding as many people with just five loaves and two fish.
The Ninth Episcopal District of the AME has prepared 5,000 fish sandwiches to be fed to whoever comes for the special event called "Feed the 5,000" between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the campus of the defunct Daniel Payne College, an AME school in Birmingham.
"The whole idea is that in this changing world, God still speaks," AL.com quotes AME Bishop James L. Davis as saying. "This is our way of saying God's word is still the same. He still does what he's always done. He still will do what he's always promised. We dramatically show that through the feeding of the 5,000."
The event, being held in a big tent with 14 smaller tents for the worship service and meal, is featuring music by 300-voice choir and rappers and dancers as well as a message by the Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple AME Church of Baltimore, Md.
Volunteers have cleaned the site up, and re-landscaped the campus, said Davis, whose church has asked all of Birmingham to come. "It's not an event to feed the hungry. We welcome them. That's not the focus. Whether you need a fish sandwich or not, come and have one with us. The focus is to get believers and nonbelievers there to hear a meaningful message."
Alabama is home to some 275 AME congregations and nearly 20,000 members of the denomination, according to the Episcopal District's website.
The mission of AME is "to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and environmental needs of all people by spreading Christ's liberating gospel through word and deed." The denomination not only seeks out and saves the lost, but also feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, houses the homeless, cheers the fallen, provides jobs for the jobless, and administers to various needs in the community.
Last year, St. Paul AME Church in Apopka, Fla., held a similar event to feed 5,000 people.