Good Churches Are Good Neighbors

Many of you know that I participate in The Good Neighbor Meal program at the Good Neighbor Center in Saint Paul. It’s a building that houses a couple of churches, but the owners use it for the benefit of the city. There’s a kids tutoring program in addition to the meal program. I’ve been involved for about 10 years, and it’s truly been a blessing.

I started out washing pots and pans, moved up to dishes (it is a promotion, trust me) and now I’ve gone on to plan, purchase, and serve meals by my self (with the help of a regular crew of dedicated volunteers.) Individual’s come in and sponsor a meal (or a group, up to you) and relieve the burden from the host. During all that time, our biggest need has been for other groups to come in and take over doing some of the meals. The founders, really great people, fund the place with the proceeds from a car lot they own. So if you’re going to buy a used car, head on down to Bob’s Auto Ranch. Not just a well-run business, but great prices and true integrity. It also helps educate and feed people.

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My church, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, has come in to help me several times over the last few years. A spectacular group of volunteers, all of them with a smile. This year, for the first time, Shiloh has started to host some of the meals. Hallelujah! For their maiden voyage, Deacon Johnson ran the show and served Shepherd’s pie, salad, corn bread, bread and butter, assorted beverages, cupcakes, and pastries.

As you can see from the pictures, we put the whole crew to work, even the little ones. The pretty pastries are all donated by Panera. Yes, we get all the leftover product from the day before. Superior quality treats for our guests, and almost always the bread served with our meal.

If you’re a church-goer, you will understand just why this is a big deal. If not, let me tell you: some churches are selfish. Mine is not. Some churches will only work on events that take place in their building. Mine cares about all the community and the building doesn’t matter. Some churches will only do things if it’s “branded” with their name. Mine works for Jesus. My church, a great church, took a huge leap of faith and came in with a member on a project – because it was the right thing to do.

Now, after the event, the church ladies want to know when the next meal is, so they can come and help. God, bless them. They are so full of love.

The answer is: the second and last Saturday of every month.

So, here’s my offer, Twin Cities people: if you’d like to do this with your church/group/friends, send me an email or put a comment in with your contact information. I won’t publish it, but I will contact you privately. If you wind up joining the crew and taking on one of the 24 meals this year, I’ll come and help you get organized that first time. I’ll cook if you like. But I’d be just as glad to do the pots and pans. See, I know that job pretty well.
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