A ministry for all

Published 12:34 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Lunenburg County Ministries (LCM) is a nonprofit organization that serves its community in different ways, one of which was on display April 28 at St. Matthew’s Baptist Church in Kenbridge. People were gathered for an LCM-asponsored Community Supper that had a simple purpose.

The meals are about bringing the community together — all of it, said Jacqueline Moore, who is on the committee that plans the Community Suppers.

“We do want to take care of the needy, but the emphasis is all people in the area are welcome to come and dine, and that’s what we do,” she said.

Vyta Puleo, whose home church is the Episcopal Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, helped start the Community Suppers. She noted that they stemmed from a conversation she had with Eric Eide, the pastor of Perseverance Christian Church in Dundas.

Puleo said her church started having meals, and “then I spoke with (Eric Eide) to get together so all the churches could participate. … Our church was doing it by ourselves, and so I said, ‘Well, it would be nice if we had help, and other churches could do it, and we could do it at each others’ churches,’ and that’s what happened.”

Eide said creating an opportunity for seniors and for the needy to enjoy a good meal had

been part of the mission of the community meals, even influencing when they were held.

Typically, the Community Suppers are scheduled for the last Friday of each month. Eide noted this is the time when food stamps have run out.

“That’s when people have the greatest need,” he said. “And so it was to provide for those in need without singling them out as, ‘You’re a needy person.’”

Rather, he said, the invitation became, “‘You’re part of the community. Come, eat.’”

Emphasizing this broader approach, Puleo said, “It’s called Community Suppers because it’s for the whole community — rich or poor, white or black, anybody and everybody — to come together and eat together as a community.”

She said there are presently four participating churches facilitating the Community Suppers: Kenbridge Baptist Church, Kenbridge United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew and St. Matthew’s Baptist Church.

Nearly every month, one of the four churches will host and provide a meal, while another one or two of the four may provide the dessert.

“That way it’s not such a big burden on just one church,” Puleo said.

Eide said, “Lunenburg County Ministries takes charge of providing all of the paper products, all of the drinks and all of that kind of supplies for all the meals.”

A few times a year, Puleo said, LCM provides the meal, as well.

Among those enjoying the food and fellowship on April 28 was Cleveland Johnson, who has been a regular at the Community Suppers.

“I missed the last two, but I usually go,” he said. “All of them are good.”

The churches offer a variety of food from supper to supper, and he said, “I enjoy it all.”

Down the table from him was Lillian Maddox, who said, “This is my first time coming.”
Asked what she thought of the event, she said, “I enjoyed it. Very good.”
As it was near the end of the supper, Johnson added with a laugh, “We enjoyed it so much, we don’t want to go home.”
Highlighting the personal benefit she finds in the Community Suppers, Puleo said, “I have met so many good people here that I’ve seen in town before, but just to actually sit down and have a meal with them and talk, it’s really nice, and it’s just so comforting to have the community all together, and it’s fun, and I like to cook.”

She said it was three years in March that her church has been doing the meals.

Many different people have made ministries like the Community Suppers possible, and Puleo highlighted Paul and Dolly Sojka for their contributions to the community.

Puleo indicated that efforts have been made to expand the number of churches involved in the meals.

Lawrence Fowlkes, an LCM board member, indicated the organization is issuing a broad invitation.

“The idea that we want to get across is that we invite all churches within Lunenburg County to become a part of the ministry, and we serve all of Lunenburg County,” he said.

He noted that LCM serves the community, in part, through having a building it owns in Kenbridge that is like a store.

Moore said the building has a food bank and a clothing closet, and people can go there to apply to receive food and clothing.

“Everything that comes into the ministry is donated,” LCM Coordinator Thelma Wilson said. “Our clothing and our food and everything that comes in is donated.”

Donors include individuals, stores and churches.

“We have a few churches in the area that donate to us on a monthly basis,” Wilson said.

And she made it clear who the beneficiary of the donations ultimately is.

“Everything that comes into the ministry we give it back to the community — everything,” she said.

The next Community Supper is set for Friday, June 30, at Kenbridge United Methodist Church.

Those interested in helping LCM can donate food (boxed or canned items), clothing for all ages, a tax-deductible financial gift or their time.

To learn more information about Lunenburg County Ministries, call (434) 676-6515.

Photo by Titus Mohler
Lillian Maddox has some dessert April 28 at St. Matthew’s Baptist Church, marking the first time she has come to one of the Community Suppers sponsored by Lunenburg County Ministries.