3 churches unite to serve homebound, elderly with monthly meals

3 churches unite to serve homebound, elderly with monthly meals

October marked the one-year anniversary of FANS – Feed A Neighbor Supper, a ministry of Ft. Gibson United Methodist Church in Castlewood, Virginia; St. Paul United Methodist Church, and First Baptist Church, both of St. Paul, Virginia.

It all began with a prayer by retired teacher Lynn Ramsey. She asked God to show her where to serve in this season of her life. The answer was to provide a hot meal to elderly and homebound neighbors.  Lynn knew that the communities of Castlewood and St. Paul were served by several food banks, and both United Methodist churches had "blessing boxes." However, no one was providing a hot meal, a smile, and a check-in to older folks living alone or with physical limitations or chronic health conditions, as well as those recovering from surgery or illness. 

Lynn, a member of Ft. Gibson UMC, approached her pastor, the Rev. Pam Sutherland, in September 2021 with the idea of preparing a hot meal once a month at the church and then delivering it to those in the community who would be blessed by a meal and a visit. Pastor Pam suggested that it be a charge-wide ministry with St. Paul UMC and envisioned inviting other churches join in the ministry. Lynn and Pastor Pam invited Carey Watkins from St. Paul UMC, and the Rev. Andy Wood from First Baptist Church to a planning meeting. The rest is history!

Names, addresses, and phone numbers of recipients were solicited from church members, along with dietary restrictions. The first FANS hot meal delivery was on Oct. 21, 2021. Forty-five meals consisting of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade bread, and desserts, were delivered to homes in the Castlewood and St. Paul communities. Every month since, volunteers from the churches, as well as individuals from the community, have gathered to prepare, pack, and deliver meals to our neighbors. The ministry has grown to 85 meals every month.

Fort Gibson’s United Methodist Women donated seed money to begin the ministry. In November 2021, FANS received a Poverty and Hunger Grant from the Holston Conference Outreach/ Advocacy Team to help purchase heavy duty microwavable containers, bags and boxes for deliveries, along with other necessary items. FANS is currently supported by monetary and food donations from individuals.

The response from those receiving the meals is what keeps this ministry going. They are so appreciative, not just for the meal, but also knowing there are people who truly care about them. We are blessed to be a blessing.