By Kate Wood
Community Lunch Coordinator
As with many things at Grace Church, the idea of serving a free meal to our neighbors in need came out of a discussion among parishioners. In 1991, Chris Black organized and served eighteen “guests of Grace” at the inaugural meal. This is believed to be the first such offering in Traverse City, and now several churches serve community meals throughout the week. Grace serves lunch every Friday from 12 noon to 1 pm. This food ministry is funded by generous donations of community and parish members.
Community Lunch is one of Grace’s three Jubilee Ministries – the Food Pantry and Jubilee House being the other two. There are over 600 Jubilee Ministry Centers in The Episcopal Church, a national program that encourages a ministry of joint discipleship with poor and oppressed people to meet basic human needs and to build a just society. The national program started in 1983, but Grace did not become an official Jubilee Ministry Center until 2005.
Over the years, Community Lunch has had a legion of volunteer cooks, dishwashers, and servers. We now average about fifty people per meal. Those served include struggling neighbors, elderly people on fixed incomes, and the homeless. A nourishing meal served on the parish’s “china” gives a sense of welcome to those eating and a focus on hospitality for the volunteers that serve.
All the team members of this ministry say that they receive far more in blessings and joy serving and sharing than they ever thought would be possible when they first began. This is a ministry that has had generations of Grace families participate due to its episodic but constant presence.
Many of you may be aware that Community Lunch is also served at Grace every Sunday at 1 pm, hosted by a group of dedicated volunteers from area churches, who have been faithful in their service to this ministry.
It is our hope that Community Lunch continues as part of Grace Church’s long legacy of faith, allowing us to add life to the community we live in. If you are interested in learning more about this ministry and how you might help, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 231-941-5785.