Monday Night Community Dinners
First Presbyterian Church offers a free supper every Monday evening. We serve the meal from 5:30-6:00 downstairs in Westminster Hall, and people are usually out the door by 6:30.
Dinners are open to everyone.
Community Dinners began in the summer of 2014 with Monday night cookouts in the parking lot as a way for us to get to know our community better. We quickly realized that there are many people in the area that are hungry for a meal or companionship or both. Our Community Dinners provide a good meal and table fellowship every Monday at 5:30 pm.
Who attends? Our dinner guests include neighbors down the street, across town and in nearby communities. Families, singles, and older adults join us each week, and even teenagers taking a break from Ultimate Frisbee in the park stop in on occasion! Eveyone is welcome. Attendance averages between 50-60. After giving thanks to God, we serve the meal buffet-style and then everyone, members and guests alike, sit down together at the tables.
Who provides dinner? Our members provide the meals. A dinner coordinator does the shopping and several people take turns cooking. Most meals are prepared at the church, with members bringing donations of extra sides and desserts. Dinner guests have also brought in food at times, such as apples, cuties, and Kool-Aid. Last Thanksgiving, dinner guests contributed vegetables, potatoes and cranberry sauce. The dinner has become akin to the multiplication of loaves and fishes! No one leaves hungry.
How are the dinners supported? Community Dinners are supported by our members' weekly offerings in worship. We budget approximately $130/week. In 2016, we received a generous donation from the Homewood Area Chamber of Commerce, which met 1/6th of our budget. Other companies, such as Hessel Jepperson Electrical Inc. (Chicago Heights) and various individuals within and beyond our local community have also contributed monetary gifts. Homewood Chevrolet and Aurelio's Pizza are two more partners that have provided full dinners. We are grateful for these sponsors. We also rely on members and friends offering their time and talent. Any given week there are a good handful of folks helping in the kitchen, cooking, setting up, cleaning up, and serving the meal. Others are given the role of greeters so that everyone who walks through the door receives a warm welcome. Local high shool and junior high students are able to fulfill required volunteer service hours with meaningful work as they serve with us side by side. We are also open to other worshipping communities and service organizations who would like to partner with us and help out through the year.
What is the Sharing Table? One Monday a member brought in a collection of canned goods and other non-perishables donated from her apartment complex for guests to take home. The idea caught on and suddenly the Sharing Table was created. At first it was just food items, then one week we had scarves. Another week pairs of gently used socks appeared. Later we had drawstring backpacks. We never know what we might find. Both guests and members donate to the table in a true spirit of sharing.
Take advantage of an opportunity to ask for prayer. There are forms on each table to make your request or someone will be sitting at a back table to pray with or for you, whatever you feel comfortable with.
Photography by Frank J. Casella