Reprinted from the December 2023 issue of The Northland, the newspaper of the Diocese of Moosonee
Article by George Cribbs, Editor of the Northland.
“Serve the Lord with gladness”
THERE ARE MANY UNSUNG ‘HEROES’ within our parishes. These ‘heroes’ are the people who perform all manner of tasks so that our church services can run smoothly, our church buildings are clean and in good repair and our parishes’ projects are successful. Some of these individuals are clergy or they are lay persons who hold prominent positions within the parishes where they serve. Many others are parishioners who simply help where and when help is needed.
For some time, St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Timmins has been providing meals for people who need the food or a place to warm themselves or a place where they can feel safe. Some of the guests who come to be served a meal re- ally need to have someone listen to them and pay a little attention to them. This special ministry of service has grown over the last year and now in- volves many of the people of the parish.
The tasks associated with the lunch program are many. Food needs to be prepared or purchased in advance; tables and chairs and tablecloths need to be set out in the church hall; food needs to be made ready in the kitchen and then taken into the church hall; plates, cups, glasses, bowls, condiments, milk, cream, sugar, tea, coffee, and water all need to be made available in time to serve those who come to the church hall. When the parish’s guests arrive, they are to be greeted – if they are regular attendees – and made welcome. They are served a hot meal and their dishes are cleaned and put away when they are finished their repasts. As they dine, some parishioners come and sit with them – if they so desire – and listen to their stories and engage them in conversation.
The following are but some of the people who come work at the Friday lunch program:
Peter Colbert is the ‘Renaissance Man’ of the lunch program. He is an excellent cook and often prepares meals and barbecues burgers as well as doing the dishes.
Don Montague is a warden at St. Matthew’s and he works tirelessly throughout the week buying food in the local supermarkets and coming very early to the church to make sure that the food to be made ready is taken out of the freezer. Don then helps to prepare the church hall and cooks food so that it is ready in good time for the guests.
Maria and her husband Garfield attend virtually every Friday lunch. Maria frequently serves the food to the clients ensuring that everyone has enough and that they have the items which they want on their plates.
Nina is someone who likes to serve others. She not only distributes food but engages people in lively conversation and makes them truly welcome.
Catharine is one of the hosts who listens and chats with the guests as they eat their meals. She greets many of the guests by name as they arrive for lunch. It is this personal approach, as well as the food, which brings many of the people back repeatedly.
Cheryl is another one of the workers who makes sure that everything will run smoothly when it is time to serve the lunch. She organizes the volunteers and checks the supplies.
Marion likes to do dishes! All the guests are served with the parish’s reusable plates, cutlery, and cups. This generates many used dishes as well as pots and pans. Marion usually works quietly away in the kitchen seeing to it that everything is spotlessly clean for the well being and comfort of the guests.
Bishop Victoria Matthews
Bishop Victoria provides much of the background work needed to keep the lunch program going. In addition to her organizational skills, she happily serves all who come to the lunches and often washes dishes too.
Christine is a good conversationalist because she knows how to listen. Her sympathetic ears have helped many of the guests to feel at home at St. Matthew’s.
When some of the clients come to the church hall they fall asleep over their meal because they have walked all night to stay warm and be safe. St. Matthew’s offers them a sanctuary as well as good food. It gives people who have few friends friendly faces to interact with; it gives the people who come a respite and a sense that someone cares about them.
Every volunteer who works at this lunch program can attest that they feel just as rewarded as the clients whom they seek to serve. St. Matthew’s lunch program has given some of its parishioners a wonderful opportunity to help others and in so doing they have been blessed. The lunch program has given the parishioners a deeper appreciation of one another and a deeper understanding of the homeless.
Interested in keeping up-to-date on news, opinion, events and resources from the Anglican Church of Canada? Sign up for our email alerts .