Lewisburg church serves 40,000th community meal

LEWISBURG — Trinity Lutheran Church served its 40,000th community meal on Wednesday, Aug. 23, during an annual summer barbecue. The church has been hosting the Neighbor Night Ministry every Wednesday since 2009, an effort they began to combat a need in the community.

“This is a special meal for our neighbor night,” church member Lalah Kline said. “Our Neighbor Night meals have been going on since March of 2009. The reason we started was because of the economic downturn that started in 2008. We saw that people were really hurting in the community and as a congregation we wanted to do something to help them.

“Someone suggested doing a meal, because the previous fall Hurricane Ike had come through and many people in Lewisburg had lost their power for about a week,” Kline continued. “The church had power. A couple said, ‘We can cook and whoever wants to can come and eat.’ It worked really well, because people would bring food that was going to go bad in their freezer, they would bring it here, cook it, and serve it.

“After the hurricane was done and people got their power back, the spring came and we wanted to serve the community during the economic down turn. Someone suggested we serve meals again. We talked about doing it once a month, but somebody suggested once a week,” she added.

“We had a meeting on a Tuesday night, we discussed it, and everyone volunteered,” Kline said. “The next week, we served our first meal. We didn’t have a budget, plan, or committee, but we started and it has been going on every week since then.”

She added, for the past two Wednesdays, they didn’t hold the community night, due to preparations for the summer barbecue.

The food for the weekly meals is purchased with donations — nothing from the church budget pays for the Neighbor Nights. According to Kline, corporations like Cargill have stepped up to help sponsor the weekly meals.

Cargill is actually the moving force behind the summer barbecue. Every year, Cargill collaborates with the church to host a special Neighbor Night barbecue.

“They have an arm that has done some good stuff for the community. They call it the Cargill Cares Team,” Kline said. “For the last three years they have done a barbecue once a summer. This is it tonight. They are cooking — they’re grilling hamburgers, pork chops, and hot dogs tonight. The other food has come from other churches. “

Steve Hawley with Cargill Cares added, “I work for Cargill here in Lewisburg. Four years ago I got on a committee and it’s called Cargill Cares. We do things for the community through the schools, education, environment, agriculture, and nutrition – that’s what this is all about. This is community enrichment. Three years ago I got with Kline and they do this every Wednesday night. I came up with the idea to do a summer barbecue. Cargill approved it and I have three other employees out here helping me cook. This is what we do for community enrichment.”

“The barbecue brings the community out together,” Hawley said. “It shows that there is support in the community from the businesses and churches. The fact that we’re serving our 40,000th meal tonight is pretty incredible.”

“It seems kinda remarkable to me. I actually didn’t realize it until we set the date and I was counting out the people and I realized that we might hit that number during the barbecue. We’re really hoping that we will,” Kline added.

“This isn’t just for people in need, it’s for fellowship,” Hawley said. “Anybody can come. It’s for fellowship, not just for free meal. It’s for people to get together. There are people who don’t know each other in a little town like this.”

They did hit that milestone during the summer barbecue. They served their 40,000th meal to Lewisburg resident Joyce Myers. She attended the meal not knowing that the church was attempting to hit the extraordinary milestone.

“I came out to the dinner for friends, family, and church gathering,” she said. “I did not know they were trying to reach their 40,000th meal tonight — that was a nice surprise. It’s awesome. These meals are good for the community, because it gets us out, it gets us together, and provides us with supper all at the same time.”

Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Brent Cavendish, pointed out, these meals also help those who are in financial need.

“These meals help for people who actually need food, they can come here on Wednesday and get a meal. Then they can go right down stairs and get food from the food pantry,” he said. “This is also a community gathering place. We have people here – kids, parents, and elderly folks. I always thought what I liked the most about it is that people share and get together. You’re not going to get people who live in the motel in any of these people’s homes, but tonight they share tables.

“People serve side by side,” Cavendish added. “That’s the part I like the most. Getting to the 40,000th meal served was quick. We just celebrated the 30,000th in 2015. We’re excited about it, because it shows that we’re really helping the community, but at the same time it is a comment that there are still people out there who need food.”

“While we at Trinity have been able to do the weekly meal more or less on our own in the past, we have lost several willing volunteers due to aging and other reasons,”Kline said following the event. “We always welcome help from anyone in the community.”

She added, anyone interested in helping should contact the church office at 937-962-2741 or the Parish Administrator at 937-336-2900.

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Trinity Lutheran Church served the 40,000th community meal on Wednesday, Aug. 23, during the annual summer barbecue. The meal was served to Lewisburg resident Joyce Myers.
http://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2017/08/web1_1Church7.jpgTrinity Lutheran Church served the 40,000th community meal on Wednesday, Aug. 23, during the annual summer barbecue. The meal was served to Lewisburg resident Joyce Myers.

By Kelsey Kimbler


Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH