New church hosting back to school bash

Pastor Matt Caraway preaches before his new congregation. 

After approximately a year-long delay because of COVID-19, Truth Church Waterloo is excited to host its first back to school bash. 

At Saturday’s event, the church will be giving away backpacks filled with school supplies to the first 144 school-aged children who show up, as well as four bikes via a raffle. 

Because supplies will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, Pastor Matt Caraway recommends showing up at the Monroe County Courthouse around 2 p.m. The raffle winners will be announced at the next day’s church service. 

Community members can also enjoy free food, bounce houses and yard games from 2-6 p.m.

Caraway said this event is a testament to Truth’s commitment to helping families.

“Children’s ministry is very important to us, but not only children’s ministry, just the family ministry in general,” Caraway said. “We know that times are tough times right now financially … (school supplies) are an expense every single year, and after the year we’ve had with so many people being off work, the timing just seems right to where it may be an even more needed ministry.” 

Caraway came up with the idea to host the back to school bash before COVID-19 made it an even more pressing need. Originally, the bash was going to kick off the church’s launch last year, as Caraway planned to hold Truth’s first service the day after the block party. 

The pandemic prompted a change in plans; Truth had its first service sans-bash last fall and is now gearing up to host the inaugural event.

Caraway said since the church has had roughly a year to grow, they can rely on their own members to run the event and not solely on other churches. 

“It’s been rewarding, too, simply because you get to see what God has done in that year,” Caraway said. “Last year at this time we didn’t know anybody, and now we have a church family putting on this event. It lets you see how far the church has gone in a short time.” 

Caraway said he is looking forward to connecting with even more members of the community through Saturday’s event. 

“As a new church, we’re not out there front and center,” Caraway said. “We’ve grown significantly, but we’re nowhere near where we want to be, so it’s an outreach, but at the same time, this day itself is a ministry. There may be people there who we never see again, but if we can help them that one day, that would be great, too.” 

In addition to Truth’s members, local businesses have also helped make the bash possible. While Truth church footed all the costs, Creation Station Designs found the supplies and Happy Bounce STL provided three bounce houses. 

Of course, he also thanks the City of Waterloo and Monroe County for allowing the event to be on the courthouse grounds.

“We were going to buy backpacks and put school supplies in the backpacks, but (Creation Station Designs’s owner Summer Jackson) … found backpacks for a good price that already had school supplies in them, and they were good quality backpacks. So, all the credit goes to her on that.” 

Currently, Truth Church hosts services at 5:30 p.m. on Sundays at LifeChurchX’s building at 400 Park Street, Waterloo, but Caraway said they plan to eventually have a brick and mortar of their own in the city. 

To learn more about the church, visit

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Madison Lammert

Madison is a reporter at the Republic-Times. She has over six years of experience in journalistic writing. Madison is a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in mass communications. Before graduating and working at the Republic-Times, Madison worked for SIUE’s student newspaper, The Alestle, for many years. During her time there she filled many roles, including editor-in-chief. When she is not working, she likes to spend time with her dog and try new restaurants across the river.
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