By Sharon Mager, BaptistLIFE correspondent
HARRINGTON, Del.—Harrington Baptist Church provides free meals for their neighbors every Wednesday evening. Pastor Daniel Walton said the church began the ministry a year ago in response to awareness of a need for hunger relief in the community.
“We found children were not getting good solid meals,” Walton said. Church members handed out flyers throughout the neighborhood. About a half dozen folks arrived for the first dinner. In the past they have served up to 40 people.
Walton said the church’s emphasis has always been to share the Gospel, and he is very pleased that they have had that opportunity with at least one-hundred people, one-one-one.
But the ministry is not just blessing the guests. Reaching into the community revived the enthusiasm of the congregation and when some Wednesday guests started arriving on Sundays as a result of the ministry, the church took notice. “It breathes a lot of excitement into the church as a whole,” Walton said.
Three teams of 10 people each prepare and serve the home cooked meals. Volunteers of all ages help, including children and seniors. Walton said the church decorates the fellowship hall and uses linen table cloths to show their guests that they are welcome and honored. Some volunteers cook, some serve, others clean up and some do table ministry, sitting with the guests, listening to their stories and sharing Christ as the Holy Spirit prompts.
People from a variety of backgrounds come for the meals. Some are homeless, others are living with friends. Some struggle with substance abuse. Walton said they have had the opportunity to refer some people to addictions ministries.
Last year, the church hosted a free Thanksgiving meal and fed over 100 people. Walton encouraged the whole church to join in the meal, to provide companionship to the guests. It also provided an opportunity for those who don’t normally volunteer to observe the ministry
Walton is now preparing to help another church in the community start a similar ministry. “We are just a church of 70 but we can do this,” Walton said. He wants other churches to know they don’t have to be big to do this type of ministry.