As part of their Neighborhood Social Ministry, West End Collegiate Church in Manhattan hosts a soup kitchen ministry every Tuesday. Associate Minister Rev Jes Kast oversees this ministry and offers us a glimpse inside.
She handed me an envelope after I finished preaching at our Soup Kitchen Church. “Pastor Jes” she said “We want you to know how much we appreciate what this place is to us. The good food, the uplifting preaching, and the community. Here is our humble gratitude.” I opened the envelope and inside was $80 that these four sojourners gathered together as an offering to express their thanks for what they received at The West End Collegiate Church Soup Kitchen.
I refer to these four as The Deacons. They are men and women who help lead us in prayer before I preach and have become evangelists for homeless children of God living on the street looking for a place to eat and the company of friendship. We, together, have created a community of pilgrims seeking to be known and seeking to receive grace. This all happens around the blessing of the dinner table.
We feed 100-200 people each week. Chef’s Merle and Debbie cook with all good ingredients, but especially love and care. Our committed volunteers show up each week and we work together under the Benedictine Motto “All are to be welcomed as Christ.” I remind the volunteers that Christ might be having a bad day today and he may be the man in the line that is a little antisocial, welcome him. Or Christ might be hyper and need to get some energy out. Or Christ might be the one who is coming off a bad trip. Each person is the person of Christ and we treat them as such.
Our Soup Kitchen is a sanctuary. It is a dinner party. It is a place of dignity and prayer where all are welcomed to experience the love of God in Jesus Christ.