TOGETHER: The Community Dinner
A Feeding Ministry Unfolds Over Time
Impactful ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. And nobody understands this better than the members of Bethel International’s Disciples Sunday School class.
In 2011, while studying how hunger impacts people living in Columbus, the Disciples class felt God calling them to act on what they had learned. They decided to start a “Community Dinner,” serving up free meals each month to anyone in need. But God’s vision for this new ministry wasn’t always clear, and volunteers often outnumbered dinner guests. As their discouragement grew, something happened, which reminded volunteers that God wasn’t finished with them yet. One evening, the late Sarah Kocsis arrived with a prayer on her heart. She said, “I prayed that God would give us a sign if He wants us to keep doing this.” God answered Sarah’s prayer that night – the Community Dinner saw its largest crowd yet.
With a mission of feeding hungry people and bringing neighbors TOGETHER, the Community Dinner has been going strong for almost ten years, serving monthly meals and turkey dinners on Thanksgiving Day. Nearly eighty guests gather around beautifully decorated tables in the Family Life Center to dine with members of our church, an experience that many guests don’t get anywhere else.
For longtime leader Kathy Young, the Community Dinner is about more than simply serving meals to hungry people. It’s as much about the relationships as it is about the food. “We started the dinner to address hunger, but it’s evolved into also addressing loneliness,” said Young. “Folks love the food, but the love and fellowship are just as important.”
The Community Dinner has continued to provide food, love and fellowship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ministry volunteers have adapted, offering take-out meals, a drive-thru line, picnics on the lawn and meals personally delivered to seniors like 100-year-old Nola Yeager. Members of the Disciples class, along with the entire church, have responded to God’s call to feed people’s hunger for food and meaningful connection. Reflecting on the ministry, founding member Diane Stropes said, “Community Dinner shows the love of church members have for helping and providing meals to our neighbors. The reward is the smiles and thanks from our guests.”
The Community Dinner is an example of how God unfolds the vision of our life, and ministry, over time, taking dreams and turning them into realties greater than we could imagine on our own.