What United Methodist Church wouldn’t like to have their fellowship hall filled with enthusiastic teenagers every Friday night? St. John’s UMC in Kingman has a great ministry doing just that! Several months ago, one of the members whose son plays on the local high school football team mentioned to another member that she was aware some of the student-athletes did not have a Pre-game meal on Fridays. Was there anything the church could help with?
A meeting of several members, the pastor, and some of St. John’s great cooks produced a plan and a willingness to provide a high carb, tasty and nutritious meal for what they thought might be 20-30 students. But there was no funding available from the church budget at that time.
St. John’s has had a successful Giving Tree ministry opportunity for some time, so the decision was made to put needed food items on the tree. So, for example, one week there were 30 or so tags that read ‘1 lb. ground beef’. They report that 90% of what was needed was donated from the Giving Tree and monetary donations covered the rest.
But the blessings didn’t stop, as weekly, about 60 athletes, coaches, and parents joined for a meal. Some commented it was their best meal of the week.
Delightful fellowship, along with the meal, produced new community ties, and the young people were pleased that so many people were praying for their safety during the game. (I’m betting a few were also praying for a “W” each week too!) When there were left-overs, the players were encouraged to take home meals for their families, and several players expressed interest in an organized youth group forming. That is now in the works for the New Year!
In today’s world, where so many exist with food insecurities, this church found a way to feed bodies and spirits, share Christian values and prayers, and be the welcoming and nurturing Body of Christ in their community. I look forward to seeing how this develops in the future. And, no, I don’t know if the meals helped with a winning season, but a better life and a closer community were certainly proven results they can proudly point to.
Oh, and it wasn’t all 1-way giving…the football team showed up to unload the truck for St. John’s Pumpkin Patch and upgraded the paint on their courtyard prayer labyrinth. Unlike football, this is truly a WIN-WIN final score!