On a Sunday morning the church door opens constantly. While the sanctuary upstairs is being prepared for the service of Holy Communion, early comers’ steps lead downstairs to the fellowship hall where there is another communion gathering, holy as well in its nature as it has been prepared with love and dedication.
Each and every month in Canada 863,492 individuals, 36% of them children and youth accessed food banks in 2016. In 2017 almost a half a million unique individuals visited Ontario’s foodbanks; 33% of them were children. In Orillia, ON, over 1,250 men, women and children access the Orillia Sharing Place Food Bank monthly.
Out of this increasing need, the congregation of St. David Anglican Lutheran Church in Orillia established the Community Breakfast Program eight years ago. Breakfast is prepared every Sunday throughout the year. In addition, on Christmas morning there is a special breakfast.
“There are people from all walks of life. It’s a nice blend of men and women, young and old and all in between”, says Youth and Family Minister Nancy Hannah.
Even though this is a food program, it is also a community program. First, it offers an opportunity to the community to work together. Namely, breakfasts are prepared by five different volunteer groups and supported by five local businesses together with the Eastern Synod Mission Committee. Secondly, with this program a community of people has been created. “People have similar challenges and they are able to advise one another and guide each other to places where they can find help”, Nancy says.
“This is a great program. There are many families that utilise it. There are no other meal programs on Sundays in the area. This is the only one. It’s good that people don’t need to go a whole weekend without a meal”, says Ed Evans.
“This church practises what it preaches”, Ed adds. “They don’t just say the word, they show it. No matter what nationality, sex preference, saved or unsaved, alcoholic or drug addict, wealthy or poor, this congregation loves you unconditionally. They accepted me. I’m proud to be a member of this church.”
When the hour is over, food platters emptied and dirty dishes cleared away, people disperse, some to the sanctuary, some to their homes, and some somewhere in between.
St. David’s Community Breakfast Program is supported in part by a grant from the Eastern Synod Mission Committee.
- Pastor Riitta Hepomaki