New church in Glasgow opts for community meals over food banks

(Photo: Church of Scotland)Rev. Sarah Brown and her Church of Scotland congregation hold a cutting the ribbon ceremony to celebrate the opening of Castlemilk's new church on Sept. 4, 2016.

Churches can make big strides in helping their communities often with gestures that do not look huge, as a church in Scotland's biggest city shows.

A newly opened church in Glasgow has suspended its foodbank in favor of providing regular community meals with the aid of a Scottish Government grant.

Rev. Sarah Brown and the congregation held a cutting the ribbon ceremony to celebrate the opening of Castlemilk's new church.

The new Church of Scotland church opened its doors in Castlemilk, often viewed as a socially deprived area in the city.

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More than 400 people drawn from throughout the local community who were joined by well-wishers from as far away as Stornoway and St Andrews attended the opening service at the weekend.

Brown says the new program of community meals the Presbyterian church will provide is central to its future mission as a resource for the community in Castlemilk.

"We were providing an emergency foodbank for essential overnight supplies at our old church, but we've suspended that because we think helping people build relationships in the community is better than giving handouts.

"We want to restore people's dignity and see them leaving full after a good meal, rather than eating until the bag is empty. Thanks to the Scottish Government grant we can give the community meals the best chance to succeed over the next 18 months."

The government gave the church a grant of 30,000 British pounds ($40,000).

The new church has a modern art cafe which it hopes will cater to up to 100 people at regular community meals

The church held its first community meal on the evening of Sept. 2.

SOUP, PIZAA AND PAVLOVA

Some 35 people were treated to soup, pizza and pavlova prepared by members of the congregation in the building's new kitchen, as well as enjoying live music while they were eating.

Brown says the meals will now be a regular fixture.

"We're going to hold them on the first and third Fridays each month. We hope to make them weekly, and if they're successful maybe more than that.

"Thanks to the grant we have the equipment, crockery and supplies to cater for up to 100 people at each sitting. The meals are for everyone in the community to attend, and we hope people will get behind them."

The community meals are modelled on the Table Grace Café movement which Brown says has already been successful in the United States.

Diners are asked to donate what they can afford, be that a little, a lot, or just help with clearing up afterwards.

"I really believe in a hand up, rather than a hand out. Most of the supplies from foodbanks are tinned goods and I know if you're struggling to afford to buy food, then heating it up is also an issue.

"We're working in partnership with foodbanks in the area. I think the meals will grow through word of mouth because it takes a personal connection to bring people along rather than posters or leaflets."

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