“If there’s one thing Polish people know [how to make], it’s good bread,” Richard Glowacki tells me confidently. Although he and fellow church member Joel Breski have full-time jobs, they are passionate about baking and will choose homemade sourdough over store-bought loaves any day.
In 2016, Richard heard a Sabbath School mission story about troubled kids nobody wanted to work with. It touched his heart, and he began wondering what he could do to bring new people into his church family at Pendle Hill Polish Seventh-day Adventist Church, a church of mostly Polish, Czech, and Slovak immigrants 30 minutes from downtown Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
The answer: to meet his community’s physical needs for bread before he met their spiritual needs. He and Joel decided to run baking workshops for the community. They charge a small fee to cover the cost of ingredients, but otherwise, it’s a labor of love.
“A lot of people are gluten-intolerant and don’t realize it,” explains Joel. “There are so many chemicals and preservatives in store-bought bread and people may suffer the after-effects such as bloating, cramping, and skin rashes. They may get used to those symptoms and think that’s how their bodies are. But we have a better option for them.”
With the full support of the Pendle Hill church, Richard and Joel advertised their free baking workshops on Facebook and through the Polish community in Sydney. Between 30 and 40 people attended the first workshop and the word has spread since. They offer lessons in baking regular bread with Joel’s special yeast-free sourdough starter, gluten-free bread plus plant-based jams and other spreads. They plan to expand to sugar-free waffles and other healthy desserts in future.
“One woman asked for Bible studies after attending our workshop,” recalls Joel. “She began attending our Sabbath School and mentioned that she had four friends who would be prepared to pay money to have a Bible study. We were amazed and told her there was no need to pay—studying the Bible was free!”
Workshop attendees are also invited to join the church for Sabbath lunches (outdoors if the weather permits). It gives them the opportunity to learn more about healthy eating and make friends with the church members. The process has proven so successful that other churches have asked Richard and Joel to run the workshops for them. They have now partnered with several churches around Australia, including Dandenong, in Victoria, and Newcastle, in New South Wales.
“People have asked us where they can buy our bread,” says Richard. “You won’t find it in any shops. Our goal is to teach—we want to equip people with the knowledge of how to make healthy bread for themselves. Then we introduce them to the Bread of Life.”