How the ELCA helps eradicate hunger:
At around 5 p.m. every Thursday, rain or shine, the guests start arriving outside of Trinity Lutheran Church, Bismarck, N.D., for a banquet. Volunteers -- the true cornerstone of the Trinity community -- begin to greet the guests, visiting with them outside the doors that open promptly at 5:30.
Regulars fill each other in on their weeks. Smiles are contagious. When the doors open, more volunteers will be waiting to escort guests to a table for a hot and delicious meal, free of charge.
Unlike most of the meals they've had this year, this one will be enjoyed on a beautiful table setting, complete with colorful decorations, menus and real china and silverware. Sometimes there's even live music provided by the Strolling Strings.
Hosted by churches and business groups from around the Bismarck area, and with dozens of volunteers organized each week by Banquet Coordinator Tudy Fennern, Trinity's Banquet welcomes any and all homeless and hungry members of the community with open arms each and every week. Founded on the belief that "the needy should never be served poorly," the Banquet's goal is simple: to nourish the body with food and the spirit with dignity and respect.
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The tables, which seat eight, fill quickly with seven guests, escorted by yet another volunteer. The final seat remains open for one of the volunteers who has cooked and served the meal to join them in the family-style meal. The food is delicious -- prepared with fine, fresh ingredients, and perfectly spiced with compassion. As freshly baked and donated bread is broken, stories are exchanged. Laughter is shared. And hope is restored.
The Banquet has served more than 58,000 meals since July 2005. It receives no state or federal funding -- it's a labor of love shared by Trinity and the Bismarck community.
The solution to hunger goes way beyond getting a person to their next meal. Every day, in ELCA ministries and companion congregations spanning the globe, people help their brothers, sisters, and neighbors, providing the food, shelter, education and resources to help eradicate world hunger. Find an ELCA congregation near you and join in.
Everyone who comes is welcomed with a smile and shown hospitality - it's not a handout.