In the swath of uncertainty that COVID-19 wrought, Columbus First United Methodist Church decided that their commitment to missions would be certain.
The church has a longtime history of being engaged in the community with missions. Located in a small town, Columbus First UMC views part of their mission as a ‘ministry of space,’ explains Rev. Howard Boles. Almost every day and night aside from Saturday saw their facility being used for Bible Study Fellowship, Scouts, philharmonic choirs, and more. When the pandemic moved communities to physically distance and gather online, it was strange to see the usually bustling parking lot bare.
For the past twenty years every Monday at 5:00 p.m. Columbus First UMC provided a hot meal for folks in the community. Several churches in the area have each claimed a day. While they once served approximately 50 people, the pandemic led to an increased need.
Knowing the hardship on people, Columbus First pivoted to to-go style meals from their in-person methods. They are typically providing 80-100 meals each week, though they served 150-160 at the peak.
For the congregation, the ministry has given them a greater bond. Each week’s prep, cooking, and clean-up is volunteer led.
As Columbus First UMC heeds Christ’s call to feed the hungry, their witness has impacted the folks who attend the meal. Pastor Howard reports that many who attend bring a meal to a neighbor in need. As they experience the love of Christ through being served the meal, so also do they become people who serve others.
Southeast Conference Superintendent In Suk Peebles had the opportunity to join the meals team one week. “It was a blessing to see the volunteers, from the pastor to groundskeepers, so excited about the mission and joyfully packing to go meals and praying over them as they were sent on their way to the neighbors in need. It is an edible theology in laughter, full of joy and gratitude, bringing abundance and vitality to congregational life. Something about food and sharing makes us truly human and divine.”