Each year, the Catalyst Social Action Fund resources churches and projects to work within their communities serving disadvantaged people and bringing support, hope and life to those most in need. In this blog, Chris Mason from the Oak Church shares about one such project:
Since The Oak Church began to meet together, we have been eating together. A shared table is a place where everyone is equal, all ages are welcome and friendships can begin. There are many people living and working in Leeds & Bradford who eat alone – they’re simply not connected to anyone. In order to make an opportunity for people in our local community to find a way out of loneliness we started Connect Lunch – our Monday lunch club. We provide a free hot meal for anyone who wants it. Typically around 30-40 people turn up each week from all sorts of backgrounds and all sorts of ages to eat and talk, do a puzzle or read the paper.
Jimmy came along to a FoodBank session at the Oak and was invited to Connect Lunch. He’s a cracking bloke, hardened by years of pain and rejection and falling through the gaps in the system. He turned up for lunch one Monday a couple of weeks later, sat in the corner and read the paper. Wind forward a couple more weeks and he’s asking all sorts of questions about why this place is so different, talking about wanting to come to church and maybe bringing a mate, asking if someone might be able to help him get a roof over his head. It’s not long before Jimmy comes to church one Sunday, he cries his way through the worship and sleeps through the preach. Now Jimmy comes along most Mondays, he eats, talks, sometimes prays and invites people to lunch and to church. It isn’t all rosy but he’s fast discovering something of God’s grace at the table. Maybe soon he’ll break bread with his new family.
We are looking to multiply our Sunday Gathering into Bradford this year but first we’ll be multiplying Connect Lunch into Bradford – resourced by the Catalyst Social Action Fund 2018. We have the opportunity to bring the local community around a table to eat together and talk. Who knows what God will do, but our story is that when people eat together they find a new family and in time…a new life. I wonder, who could be around your table?
Written by Chris Mason