In June, for the third consecutive month, Waynedale United Methodist Church Food Bank handed out free meals to the community via a drive thru. Last November, they served Thanksgiving dinner, and continued on with a once a month free meal served in the church fellowship hall.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-house Community Dinners changed to a drive thru concept. The church, located at 2501 Church Street, partnered with Hall’s on Bluffton Road to provide the meals.
When hosting the meals indoors, the Missions team of Waynedale UMC typically serve approximately 100 people each month. That is the number they planned for in April but quickly ran out. For May, they upped the meals by 25, again running short well before the scheduled end time. And in June, the volunteers bumped the total to 150 meals with none leftover.
The church reopened for worship services on June 14 and the July meal will resume indoors. Committee Chair Margy Schimmel shares “Many people of our congregation enjoy helping during set up, serving the meals and cleaning up afterwards. We are blessed with warm fellowship that springs among those who come to eat and volunteer. Our church mission is “Joyfully Connecting People to Christ and Community” and that is why we reinitiated the free meals after a long absence.”
When hosted inside, the meal begins with a group prayer. In the drive thru approach, Pastor Ted Jansen has prayed individually with the occupants of each car if they desired.
Pastor Ted officially retired from Waynedale UMC on June 21st. He left with a challenge to the congregation. His message falls right in line with the church mission. Aptly named the 2020 Challenge, Pastor Jansen urged each member of the congregation to bless one person each week. It could be as simple as sending a greeting card to let someone know you are thinking of them, letting a car in line in front of you, buying someone who lost their job a tank of gas or picking up groceries for the elderly neighbor next door. Between now and the end of the year, there are approximately 26 weeks and 26 blessings to be shared. Pastor Ted and his wife Sue will be missed at the church but they are wished well in this new chapter of their lives. Incoming Pastor Mary Hyer is slated to begin on Sunday July 12.
The Free Community Dinners are served the second Monday of each month from 5 p.m.- 6 p.m. at Waynedale UMC. The next meal is scheduled for Monday, July 13th and social distancing will be observed. Parishioners often donate some of the food items but free will offerings are always joyfully accepted. Margy said the volunteers are looking forward to everyone sitting down, interacting and enjoying the meal together. She hopes that with the increased numbers at the drive thru, perhaps some of those people will come inside to dine and fellowship.