by Walter Cantwell
As Jesus travels throughout Galilee, he continually teaches his disciples an important lesson - God desires to see our faith in action!
Belin Memorial UMC strives to be a church where the people of God are actively sharing the love of Jesus Christ. We look for places where people are in need of love and hope.
As we drive around Murrells Inlet, we see tents in the woods, providing minimal shelter. We see the people who call these tents their home, hiding on the margins in plain sight. In our schools, we see hungry children, receiving food each Friday in order for them to be fed until school begins again on Monday. Throughout our neighborhoods, we see people struggling to make ends meet, wrestling over which bill to pay and which one to hold onto until next month.
Food insecurity defines the state and reality of many of our neighbors. There are varying levels of food insecurity, as defined by the USDA:
- Inability to purchase healthy food in order to maintain a proper diet which results in a decreased quality of food in the home
- Inability to purchase any food which results in reduced quantity and missed meals on a consistent basis
Our neighbors are hungry. So, we opened our doors and invited the homeless to our table. We put up signs near the tent villages and encouraged everyone we met to join us. We prepared the meals and waited. But barely anyone came. We tried again, and again, and again - all with the same results. Disheartened, we delivered the food to people in need.
God is trying to reveal something to us through this process. Therefore, we reflected on who came to our table. It was predominately elderly people in our community who were in need of a warm meal and a place to find community.
I shared what was happening with one of my colleagues, Pastor Brad Bellah at Shepherd of the Sea Lutheran Church. He explained how the homeless visit his church every month to receive food from their food pantry and expressed how his congregation had a desire to invite those who were already coming to their campus to stay and share a meal with them once a week. But he also hoped this meal would be a place where all people in need would feel comfortable around the table, especially the many elderly people who are food insecure in the area. These are the very people we met at the Belin Soup Kitchen.
Around the same time, Brandy Streett, our Family Life Center Coordinator, learned from the soup kitchen in Pawleys Island how important consistency is when starting this kind of ministry. It is vital to offer this ministry each and every week, which was a task that seemed daunting to us to do alone. So, I reached out to Pastor Scarlett Hester at Surfside UMC to gauge her church’s interest. She expressed how her church was just beginning to think about ways to address food insecurity in the area.
Something was happening—the Holy Spirit was moving!
It would take multiple churches, a central location, and a congregation with a connection to the homeless in order to bring this vision to a reality. That is when I received a call from Pastor Brad, letting me know that Shepherd of the Sea was willing to host a weekly soup kitchen. All we needed was a fourth church to join the efforts so that each congregation would be responsible for one meal a month. A meeting was called, and I met Pastor Steve Fairchild of Lowcountry Community Church. His church was on board. Our vision was becoming a reality.
Community Lunch: Feeding the South Strand launched yesterday, April 25, at Shepherd of the Sea Lutheran Church from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Every Wednesday, Community Lunch will be open to the food insecure and to anyone who desires to be in community with their neighbors.
If you are hungry, you are invited!
If you are struggling to make ends meet, you are invited!
If you are tired of eating alone at home or at work, you are invited!
If you would just like to meet some new people while enjoying a delicious meal, you are invited!
This is our gift to the community. We hope Community Lunch will become a gathering place for all people in the South Strand. Around the table, we will share a meal while also having the opportunity to get to know our neighbors.
Our vision is for no one in our community to go hungry or to feel isolated during lunch on Wednesdays.
We look forward to meeting Jesus at Community Lunch this Wednesday!!!
If you would like to be a part of this mission, let us know – firstname.lastname@example.org.