A new program being offered by Main Street Baptist Church in Williamsburg is proving the old adage wrong that there is no such thing as a free meal.
Every Wednesday from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. until May, the church will be offering free community meals to anyone who wants to come and take part.
The Community Meal Gathering started on Jan. 9, and the church had about 100 or so people take part. The church is expecting those numbers to grow as more people find out about the program.
“It is actually a free community meal gathering,” noted Pastor Donnie Bruce Patrick. “Really it is just another way to try and partner with our community, bless our community and build our community.”
Pioneer, which runs the food service program for the University of the Cumberlands, is catering the food for the meals.
Church volunteers for the program have been split into different five or six different teams.
The youth group is setting up tables and chairs. Other groups serve the food and drinks or greet people when they arrive or help cleanup afterwards.
“We are asking all of our members to serve and we have different teams that will hopefully rotate,” Patrick said. “It is a way our church, which is made up of the community, can give back to the community.”
Patrick said the idea has been in the works for several months, and had been on the hearts of several church members. In October, the church held a revival, and prior to the services provided meals.
“We had a great response that is where we saw the physical need of just being hungry. Our people today are just in such a hurry and they don’t take time to sit down and build friendships. We saw that as a need and saw that as something that maybe the Lord would help us to meet in our community. Really it grew out of seeing a need and seeing a response to that,” he added.
Patrick said the goal of the program is to meet three different needs of the community.
“We want to meet a physical need. We have found out there are people in our community, who are hungry but also in a hurry with work, and family and sports. We just want to meet a physical need like that. We want to meet a relational need, just to meet good friends and help families out, and kind of bring them together and build our community,” Patrick noted.
“Also we want to meet a spiritual need. The world is full of bad news. We want to share with them the hope of some good news and hear some good news ultimately about the hope of Christ and that the Creator loves them.”
Patrick said the church plans to run the Community Meal Gathering program through the end of the school semester or close to it, and then will evaluate the program over the summer with the goal of starting it back in the fall.
He said there would be some meals over the summer and some cookouts too that the public will be invited to attend, but it just won’t be every week.