The first Community Meal hosted by At The River Ministries will be held Monday from 5-6 p.m. at Dorothy Miller Park. In case of inclement weather, it will be held in the gym of Eastland Life Church, 716 E. Third St.
While the meal will be provided by Waldo Baptist Church, volunteers are needed to help serve and minister to attendees. Those who are able are asked to come to the park as early as 3:30 p.m. or as late as shortly after 5 p.m. For more information on volunteering, contact Dan Haun at 638-6901, 524-1062 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The pastoral care pastor of Eastland Life Church, Haun moved to Metropolis six years ago. From practically that moment, he’d heard it expressed that the city needs a soup kitchen or a mission for men. Two years ago, he learned of The Bridge Ministry begun by Kent and Candy Christmas in Nashville, Tenn. where churches weekly provide meals and other physical and spiritual needs for the community. Several from Metropolis have gone to Nashville to assist with the program.
It was in January that Haun began throwing out the idea of starting something similar in Metropolis. He, Christopher Rogers and others were sitting around the Massac County Courthouse when he observed: “We have bridges here in Metropolis. We have folks that’re hungry — folks that’re needy for physical needs, spiritual needs. It’s time we did something.”
That moment of reflection came some two months after a community prayer vigil was held in Washington Park. Over 100 people of various ages and faiths came together, praying for healing in the wake of four unexpected deaths in the community.
Rogers, who at the time was the co-pastor of Just By Faith Church, said Haun’s observation stirred up a brainstorming session. “The Holy Spirit came in and people were getting excited. They saw the need,” he said. “At that same time, there were a lot of people going through tragedy. There was like a spirit hanging over this town: people — the needy, the downtrodden, the less fortunate — were crying out, struggling. It touched our hearts.”
Haun and Rogers “decided it’s time to stop talking about it and time to start doing something about it,” taking their idea to other churches and organizations in the community. And they started to see a coming together.
“There’s something very needed here,” Rogers said. “God was showing us it’s time for the churches to unite and start lifting up the name of Jesus. That’s the only way we’re going to make it because we can’t do it without one another. We’ve got to have one another to make things very successful.”
The name At The River Ministries is based on Matthew 25:35-36, where Jesus tells his disciples to feed the hungry, visit the sick and visit the imprisoned. The name was suggested by Sonja Bogan and Lorie Walters, who work at the courthouse and encouraged Haun and Rogers to go forward with the idea.
“We were kicking around (ideas for names) and one of them said Metropolis is known for Superman but we’ve got a wonderful riverbank, so At The River Ministries,” Haun said.
Haun emphasized that while the Community Meal is non-denominational and “we want everybody to come, we’re trying to reach the hungry, the hopeless — this isn’t a citywide picnic.”
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