The Graceham Moravian Church recently marked five years of serving a free “First Monday” community meal through its Served with Grace ministry. The congregation began offering the monthly meal in October 2012. Different groups in the congregation prepare and serve the meal on a rotating basis, supported by a number of people who help out every month. Groups that have assisted include Graceham’s Joint Board members, Sunday School classes, teachers and the Christian Education Committee, Women’s Fellowship, the Youth Mission Team, Bells of Grace Handbell and the Hosanna voice choirs. Others from the community that have assisted include members of the Catoctin Area Civitan Club and Trinity United Church of Christ.

The average number of meals served per month over the past three years has been 95; and to date in 2017, the average has been 107. Each month, a main course is served, with one or more side dishes, a salad bar, and a variety of desserts. The church maintains a garden that supplies much of the produce used for the meal. Some of the favorites are chili, pasta with meat sauce, bread pudding, and pickled beets, made with a recipe of Graceham’s Director of Christian Education Joanne Fuss, who also coordinates the meal. Once a year, the meal is catered and fried chicken is served, using donations received. Donations for the meal are appreciated but not required or expected.

Members of the community, the congregation, extended family and friends, are among each meal’s guests. “We begin each meal with prayers of thanksgiving and intercession for those who are sick or in need, and we always give thanks for the community that has been formed around the tables at the Served with Grace meals,” said the Rev. Sue Koenig, pastor of the Graceham congregation. “It is a great blessing to us to be able to offer the meal and to see how God works to bring us together. People have come to know and care for one another. They ask about those who are not present, and they welcome those who come for the first time.”

A monthly newsletter, Between Meals, is prepared for the Served with Grace community, which includes highlights of church activities and contact information for local ministries, such as the Thurmont Food Bank, the Thurmont Ministerium’s special services, the Catoctin Community Medical Fund, the Thurmont Clothes Closet, the Seton Center, and the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs. The free First Monday Served with Grace community meals are open to all. The December meal will be served on December 4, 2017, from 5:30-7:00 p.m.

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