BOONVILLE — A good book and some guidance from above lead a member of Boonville United Methodist Church to help create a new program to help feed area residents. Each Thursday at 6:30 p.m. the church hosts The Open Table, a free meal for anyone in need or anyone just wanting to come and share in the fellowship.
Sammy Kieffer said the idea originally came to her after reading a book titled “The Same Kind of Different as Me,” which tells the true story of a family who served food at a homeless shelter. Not long after reading the book, her church was invited to help serve food for the homeless at a church in Winston-Salem.
“After that I got to thinking, if there’s homeless people in that area, I bet there are people in our area that could appreciate having a free meal also,” Kieffer said.
Eight groups comprised of Boonville UMC and other area church members take turns each week purchasing the food, cooking, serving and cleaning up. Kieffer said that as yet they have not served many homeless people, but they have been able to serve a number of other area residents in need.
Residents of several area group homes regularly attend for the meals as well as other area residents from teenagers to the elderly.
“It is a variety of people who come, but the fellowship and love that has grown has truly been a blessing,” Kieffer said.
Pastor Jenny Stewart said she was so proud of the Open Table ministry at the church and the generous nature of her congregation who came up with the idea.
“It warms my hear that folks from our church want to reach out and do something for someone else,” she said. “I think we’re doing what Christ calls us to do, to serve the least, the last and the lost. We’re offering Christ to others and I think it’s important.”
There is no sermon or Bible lesson during the meal, but guests do have the opportunity to share prayer requests.
Stewart and Kieffer said they want to encourage other area residents to stop by and enjoy the meal as well. They also are looking to recruit additional teams to help cook and serve meals.
Kieffer said that it was God who “planted the seed” of the idea to create the Open Table program and she was proud of what the program had become.
“It’s not just feeding the homeless, but it is feeding people who I think are hungry for food and fellowship and feeling God’s love,” Kieffer said.
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.