During the early 1960s the People's Temple set up soup kitchens, distributed free groceries and clothing, and organised other community programs. Jones was ordained as a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1964.
Religious scholar J. Gordon Melton [an ordained United Methodist and author of the Encyclopedia of American Religions] points out that: "Jim Jones' Peoples' Temple, labeled a 'cult' after the deaths in Jonestown, was in fact a congregation within mainline Christianity. It was a full member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) which in turn is a member of the National Council of Churches.
"Liberal Protestants heralded it for its social action program, and during the mid-1970s, several denominations such as the United Methodist Church devoted an entire adult church school lesson to extolling its virtues."