“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
This is one of my favorite passages from the bible about our call to serve as transformed people of faith. It takes into account that we are saved by grace, but in receiving and living into that grace, our actions should naturally demonstrate the call to love and serve all people regardless of circumstance or station. Grace Church has given me an opportunity to serve as a transformed person of faith in ways that I could not necessarily do in my work life or other areas of community service.
Denny Meyers, Kay Rickard, Dan Bruining, Christine Tibbits and I lead a group of over 30 volunteers that cook, prepare and serve a nutritious lunch every Friday. A number of volunteers come from the Traverse community at large, and “guest teams” have cooked meals, allowing Grace to share the opportunity to serve and share the joy of hospitality. All the Friday Community Meal volunteers see this ministry as a concrete way to practice the gospel message of serving our neighbors in need.
For most of us, coming together to share a meal is part of family life. Preparing and serving this community meal extends the care of our Christian family to those in our community hoping to find a brief respite from the trials of the day. The support of the larger “Grace Family” allows those of us in this feeding and hospitality ministry to serve those in need and has done so for 27 years! Quite a witness of our commitment to Christian service!
Mary Clark has been a faithful Friday Lunch volunteer for “years and years.” She was oriented to the ministry by Chris Black and remembers the emphasis that it was to be a welcoming hospitality to those served. The use of the church’s dinnerware and setting the tables in the parish hall, just as if we were having guests, reinforced the idea that we were serving a neighbor rather than performing a “charitable duty”, and sold Mary on this ministry.
Mary and I are only two of the many, many volunteers over the years that have served our neighbors in need through the Friday Community Meal. The homeless, an older neighbor on a fixed income, a lonely person looking to share time with others, or a struggling family are some of our neighbors served in this ministry. With the rare exception we serve a meal 52 weeks a year! On average we serve 50 people a week with numbers sometimes ballooning to 70 in the winter months. That is easily 2500 meals served in the past year.
This ministry is supported solely by directed donations from the congregation, meal volunteers, Food Rescue, the Grace Food Pantry and the occasional community donation. The Grace congregation, through the support of the Friday Community Meal, serves faithfully as the hands of Christ in our community.