Pancakes, grits, fruit, bacon and eggs were served along with hope and encouragement at the Monday Morning Community Breakfast, a weekly ministry held at First United Methodist Church.
This week’s breakfast was a celebration of the fifth anniversary of the ministry, started by Brian Dubberly as a local mission project when he was out of a job and looking for a way to connect with others who were in need of encouragement.
Those who gather for the weekly breakfast come for the fellowship, devotion and the food. Attendants run the socio-economic gamut, from upper class to homeless, with most being from the area around the downtown church.
Dubberly, now a missionary in El Salvador, spoke to the group gathered Monday morning via video.
“It’s so much more than just food, so much more than what I imagined it could be,” Dubberly said. “It’s a whole new church family.”
Dubberly said for the first breakfast, he and volunteers prayed and prepared for 100 people.
One man showed up that first morning – Lonnie Parker. Parker was at Monday’s breakfast to celebrate the anniversary.
“Yes, I was the only one that morning,” Parker said. “But word spread quickly, and now we have a big crowd come out.”
Parker said he knows almost all 80 people at this week’s breakfast tables.
“I really enjoy knowing all the staff and volunteers that put the breakfast on,” Parker said. “They are wonderful people and do good things. And the food is really, really good.”
About 15 volunteers work to cook and serve the breakfast, including Dave Johnson, who organizes the devotions.
Dave Johnson and weekly volunteer Mary Lew Benson try to shake hands and greet every person who comes in the door.
“It’s about making contact and encouraging people. You’ve got to let people know you care,” Johnson said.
Spencer Batchelor and his family have been serving as volunteers for the breakfast ministry since its beginning.
“Brian asked me to come in and cook with him. I felt like it was a good way to give back to the community to people that needed it, so I said yes,” Batchelor said.
First United Methodist Church buys the food for the program, though Batchelor said community donations help, too.
“I don’t think we’ve bought juice in over two years – Sundrop donates some every week. Little things like that help a lot,” Batchelor said.
The breakfasts are open to all and held at 6:30 a.m. at First United Methodist.