Community Outreach Ministry
Graceham Moravian Church
Served with Grace
There are few human needs as basic as food. Further, there are few communities as central to our lives and cultures than the ones which gather around a table.
We at Graceham Moravian Church, here in Thurmont, Maryland, prepare and serve a monthly dinner for anyone in the community who wishes to come and eat. The meal is offered completely free of charge, though some people insist on making a donation which we gratefully accept to help offset costs.
The Served with Grace meal started in the fall of 2012. Like most churches, we ceased preparing and serving food to the public in response to the COVID pandemic from April 2020 through November of last year. But besides that exception, a meal has been lovingly prepared and served by church volunteers each month for all those years. And each month we typically serve between 100-120 meals.
Now, having laid out some of the details, I’d like to talk briefly on why the church has taken on this ministry. Each month, I see this free, public dinner meeting three different needs.
First, and perhaps most basic, is a fight against hunger. Many companies are reporting record breaking profits while continuing to raise prices. Government assistance has been reduced such that single/widowed seniors in the community now report only receiving $25 in food stamp assistance each month. These among other factors have led some people and families into a time of food scarcity. A consequence of this can be seen in the drastic uptick of people seeking help at our local food banks. So the Served with Grace ministry provides a hot, nutritious meal to some adults and children who might otherwise have to make do with something as meager as a packet of ramen noodles, if anything at all.
Second, nearly every month someone will express thanks for the meal as an opportunity to get out of the house and socialize. Some of the seniors who attend are alone with little family and few affordable opportunities for fun outside their own homes. Several have shared that they have made new friends at these meals and look forward to seeing one another each month at subsequent dinners.
A third opportunity afforded by these meals, is the opportunity for members of our congregation to meet and form relationships with people in the community we might not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet. I’ve been the pastor here at Graceham for going on two years, but since we just lifted our COVID restrictions and started serving these meals again last November, I’ve only been a part of seven of these events. Yet, in the span of just seven evenings, I’ve been learning the names and stories of a number of folks outside our church. Month over month I see growth in those relationships as an increasing number of people become more comfortable coming up to me to chitchat, or simply say hello. There have been a few occasions where I have been greeted by people I got to know at these dinners while in the grocery store or at a local diner.
So all in all, it brings us tremendous joy knowing that for at least one evening a month, empty bellies are filled, friendships are being built, and people of our community are finding comfort and happiness around our table.
Thanks to Bonnie Robertson (PennMar regional rep. of the EDEB) and Jay Petrella, Pastor at Graceham Moravian Church, for providing this article.
Camping Ministries Bring Opportunities for Connection
Many Moravians look back fondly on memories of time spent at summer camps – growing in relationship with God, learning from counselors, and building friendships that often last a lifetime. The Board of World Mission is blessed to be included in many of the camping ministries across North America and throughout the Unity. In May, we sponsored service camps at Mt. Morris and Camp Hope to help prepare the facilities for their summer programming. In June, we have the opportunity to participate in mission camp at Laurel Ridge. In July, we will have staff members present at multiple camps, including a summer camp in Cuba.
One of the greatest blessings made possible by our Moravian camps is the opportunity for our young people to connect with Moravians they had not met before. Last year, the Western District high school and post-high camp, Chetek, welcomed Southern Province campers to join them at Mt. Morris when Laurel Ridge’s high school camp was canceled due to Covid. This year, we are looking forward to expanding that “exchange camper” program by inviting several campers from Moravian congregations in Costa Rica to join us at Chetek. Moravian camping ministries have always provided opportunities for campers to learn more about God, themselves, the Moravian Church, and each other. We are excited about the additional learning opportunities made possible by connecting our young people across geographic and cultural backgrounds in a time of fellowship and fun.
Grant applications are due June 15
The Moravian Ministries Foundation in America’s 2023 grant program is accepting applications until June 15. Grants from six different funds can help Moravian congregations or agencies with the costs of expanding existing ministries or introducing new ones.
Visit our website to learn more about each fund, to read about past grant recipients, and for details on how to apply.
Contact Ainsley Davis to schedule your consultation and receive an application
([email protected] or (336) 725-2589).
IBOC May Highlights
The IBOC introduces its latest offering, a hot/cold spill-proof tumbler! This double-walled travel mug includes a silicone hand grip and a flip-top AS plastic lid featuring a patented snap-locking closure. Vacuum insulated and copper-lined, this mug will keep your cold drinks cold for 12 hours and your hot drinks hot for over 8 hours.
- See website for further details.
Check out the IBOC exhibit during Synod to purchase your new travel mug.