Friday, November 26, 2010
Later today a group of people from several congregations will gather at St. Paul's for an orientation session for the community meal called The Gathering Place, which will begin next Friday. A group of motivated, positive organizers have been hard at work for several months, even though we really don't have any idea of how many will arrive for our first attempt at hospitality around a table. This evening at five I will offer a little theological pep-talk on the nature of Christ's welcome and the gang will orient themselves to our space.
I was inspired earlier this week to hear Brother John Frampton who works with the St. Francis Table ministry in the Parkdale area of Toronto. This ministry began in 1987 and they are about to celebrate serving one million meals! Well, celebrating after a fashion. Brother John quickly concedes that their preference would be that no one would need their services, but they have been faithful to the need of the community around them for all these years.
Here is how they describe themselves:
St. Francis Table is not merely a soup kitchen, but an "outreach restaurant!" Patrons are seated in a dining room, they are given a choice of meal, and are waited on by volunteers. To preserve the dignity of the patrons, they are asked to pay $1.00 for the meal (although, no one is ever turned away). While most of the patrons are homeless, many are senior citizens or those with mental health issues that live on a fixed income. "The Table" is a vibrant social community!
Please keep our Gathering Place initiative in your prayers. If you are interested in volunteering you are welcome to come this evening's orientation in preparation for the first meal which will take place next Friday (doors open at 4:30.) The orientation is required before volunteering.