The Rev. Heather Mueller,
St. Andrew’s, Taft
A MINISTRY WHICH IS MEANT TO BE…..
Since I have lived in Taft, for four and a half years now, I have noticed a relatively large number of people who are either homeless or surfing on sofas from friend to relative and back again. I have also noticed that there are very few support systems in place in this community. Homelessness is illegal in Taft and the city bathrooms have even been locked.
I was complaining heartily about this situation and a friend who was tired of hearing me complain, said, “OK, I am going to start serving sandwiches…to whomever comes and could we use the church courtyard”?
We started serving baloney and peanut butter sandwiches last year in August and what has happened is amazing. This ministry has literally exploded innumbers…support…food…money…people who serve and people who are served!
The ministry now feeds 35 to 50 people each evening. We serve full healthy meals and we serve, inside the parish hall around a very large table which was donated by the Fort here in Taft.
We are now receiving more food than we can use and several of my friends….members of the Rotary Club, members of AAUW and others often put $100 and $50 bills into my hand to be directed to the feeding program.
People bring food from their restaurants and people who have gatherings for weddings, funerals and other parties bring food and in some cases I believe these folks actually over -buy and prepare so as to have food left to share.
The congregation at St. Andrew’s is very small and even though I have tried in every way I can think of to increase the size of the congregation, I have not been able to do it.
Last summer, when we had a supply priest, five people came to worship and I was not pleased!!!! Since our bishop was visiting the following Sunday, I thought it was time to say…”Close this church”! He happened be present for the dinner program the night before (we served the people’s favorite…Shepherd’s pie… For the visit of the Shepherd!) and at least 50 people showed up. When Bishop David said, “This is your congregation” I felt the weight lift off of my shoulders. I now feel committed to the feeding program. The maintenance of the facility and cooking is my work. The Holy Eucharist on Sunday with my small and faithful congregation is the frosting on the cake. This was articulated by Father Jim Seiple and I thank him for this insight.