In the summer, the town of Sandwich is enlivened by a swell in population. That boost to the economy is welcomed, but the reverse – the exodus of people in the winter – can be disheartening for year-round residents.
“We recognize that because of finances or life situations, many of our community members are unable to go to the sunny south and may therefore struggle with the gray and cold of New England,” said Rev. Anne Cubbage, pastor of First Church of Christ, UCC in Sandwich
. “Many feel cooped up, sad that their friends will not be around for several months, and dread the cold dark winter.”
So members of the church opened their hearts and the church's doors.
Unlike many church spaghetti suppers geared toward member fellowship, First Church hosts the community for a free luncheon meal of various soups, bread, dessert, and most of all good conversation with new friends. Over 25 church members participate in the set up, serving, clean up and hosting each week. Members can volunteer for just one, several, or all meals which take place every Thursday in January and February.
If you looked at the church hall, you would think you were at a sunny summer picnic. The tables are set with bright red checked tablecloths, napkins, spoons, salt/pepper, pitchers of water with lemon slices and cups, as well as baskets of bread, butter, and oftentimes plates of desserts. Several restaurants and a local nursing home partnered with the church by providing soup and bread.
This was a real outreach to the community. Fliers were placed in all of the post offices, nursing homes and grocery stores in the area as well as sent to other local churches and the Council on Aging. Signs were placed in front of the church and around town. The Chamber of Commerce advertised these meals, which also received press in the local newspapers as well as on several local radio stations.
The word certainly got out. When the event launched last year, there was one restaurant partner and an average of about 13 guests. This year the attendance has fluctuated between 30 and 50; with four community partner restaurants participating. These ‘Winter Soup Lunches’ have become a welcome fixture in the community calendar. In fact, in February, one person who was bemoaning the thought that it was the last occurrence, suddenly perked up when told there was one more and exclaimed, "Great! We need to have a party!"
Recognizing that many neighbors not only could not travel south for the winter, but may not even be able to leave their homes, church members packaged meals and delivered them to several shut-ins.
“Our community is filled with retirees,” explained Cubbage. “As they age, far away from their roots, their friends and family, as well as the institutions they were comfortable with in their working years, they find themselves isolated. Many can no longer make the trek to warmer climates in the winter and find themselves battling depression. It is because of these realities that First Church decided to offer this welcoming space and event. We take seriously Jesus' injunction to feed the hungry--physically, spiritually and emotionally--by offering ourselves as an example of God's extravagant hospitality.”
You can reach Rev. Cubbage at the church office at 508- 888-0434 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow the church on their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/245694678857406/
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