Just as a church leader wears many a hat in his or her community and congregation, so does a church. So it’s commonplace for a worship hall to house charity events, community gatherings and free meals. But Boone Biblical Church houses those events for all congregations. It’s a shared space, where each denomination uses it autonomously. The house has a history, but these days the Boone Biblical Church serves as a weekly meal site, where good food is served and enjoyed for free to all who are hungry.
“We have members volunteer, and it’s usually on the fourth Thursday every other month,” explains Augustana Lutheran Church secretary Deb Schlieman. “In the winter months, we serve casseroles, salad and bars, juice, milk and coffee. In summer we’ll do sloppy joes and beef burgers.”
Members of each participating church volunteer their time, food and labor to ensure such a community service can continue, and it’s been that way for as long as anyone can remember in most congregations. In fact, getting to the source of how it all began and who is responsible for the tradition — at least, with regard to Augustana’s involvement — is difficult to track. Even Judy and Joe Russell, who barely will admit they pretty much run the operations these days for Augustana, are hesitant and, perhaps, too humble to take the credit.
“It’s a big collaborative effort by the church,” was all Joe would admit about, though it’s Joe who browns all the meat the night before the meal, according to Schlieman.
“Joe and Judy are very, very kind and generous in making sure it all gets served, and people take as much as they’d like,” Schlieman said. “They come and load everything up and take it over there to the church by 5:30. Judy makes sure it all gets eaten. Nothing comes back to the church — no leftovers. It goes with the people.”
Joe and Judy work the meal site alongside a handful of other volunteers from their church, and dinner is served at 5:30 p.m. until it’s gone.
“I don’t know how the turnout is for the other churches in town, but sometimes we’ll get 60 people; sometimes 80 or more. It depends on the night,” Schlieman says.
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