Kitchens bring people together and foster community. For nearly a century, the kitchen at Calvary Church, the oldest Episcopal parish in downtown Memphis, has offered great meals, fellowship and hospitality.
During the liturgical season of Lent, Calvary hosts the Waffle Shop, a pop-up restaurant staffed by volunteers from Calvary and other churches in the city. In 1928, Calvary began serving lunches of waffles, fish pudding, chicken hash, tomato aspic, and other traditional dishes to those who come to hear a good sermon in the Lenten Preaching Series and others who live or work downtown.
Volunteers in Calvary’s kitchen also serve a hot breakfast to men, women and families experiencing homelessness on Sunday mornings year round. Parishioners who purchase breakfast before attending the early service help subsidize the meals served to those who cannot afford it, but other revenues support the effort.
On the second Saturday morning of each month, a team of volunteers arrives to Calvary Church to make soup. The team cuts vegetables, meats and other ingredients to make two different soups which will be packed and sold in two-quart containers to parishioners the next morning after services. Proceeds from soup sales support the Sunday morning breakfasts for the homeless.
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The soup team @calvarymemphis named this #soup "Picnic Gumbo" after the leftover smoked chicken served at a recent parish picnic: a hodgepodge of okra, black beans, carrot, onion, cabbage and other vegetables. I write about these dedicated volunteers who raise money to feed folks living with homelessness in today's blog post accessible through my profile.
Parishioner and Soup Team Chef David Balling leads the effort each month: selecting recipes, procuring ingredients for the kitchen, assigning prep tasks to volunteers, and directing the right ingredients into enormous commercial stock pots of soup. Team volunteers come and go on soup saturdays, but the bench seems deep enough each month to cover all the vegetable chopping, cooking and cleaning tasks to get the job done. Everyone seems to find their task niche when when working with the team.
After years of volunteering, my mother recruited me to the team last fall. I’m not a churchgoer these days, but the soup team appeals to my need to give back to my community and gives mom and me an activity we both enjoy in common. If you’re looking to give back to your community and can spare one Saturday morning a month, let me know in the contact form below.