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Church Prepares Banquets for the Homeless

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Luke 14:13 (ESV) says “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” Members of St. Elmo United Methodist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee have a passion for food and fellowship. The church hosts programs every week to make sure that neighbors don’t go hungry. 

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(Chattanooga, Tennessee)

Mike Rice: “That’s a hundred banana puddings.”

Mike Rice is the caterer and event planner for his church, St. Elmo United Methodist in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mike has a talent for turning ordinary meals and spaces into something special.

Mike Rice: “Doug and Chuck’s gonna make all the coffee out there. They’re gonna make enough coffee for 200 people.”

Mike and his crew are cooking for a crowd.

Mike Rice, St. Elmo United Methodist Church: “We are fixing chicken and rice, homemade mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green beans and ham, corn, banana pudding.”

A lot of money, time and love has gone into this meal. The big event?

“How bout some chicken there, young lady?”  

A dinner for the city’s homeless.

“We’re fixin’ to fix some plates for folks in wheelchairs who can’t get over here.”

Traci Landis: “You can tell the love that’s here. It’s really great. We all appreciate it so much.”

St. Elmo United Methodist is committed to feeding hungry neighbors.

Linda Phemister, St. Elmo United Methodist Church: “You may have noticed this church has a lot of boxes of food. We get food from grocery stores and have a pantry three days a week and then a big pantry once a month.”

Rev. Debra Dickerson, St. Elmo United Methodist Church: “People can come in and get fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, bread and desserts…”

Churches have a lot of eating events. Caterer mike rice began feeding the homeless with dinners leftover from vacation bible school. Then he kept going back.

shots of mike in the kitchen frig from TC footage

Mike soon discovered he wasn’t the only one hungry for an opportunity to serve. The Thanksgiving meal drew 89 volunteers. Nancy Hendricks moved from Pennsylvania and found her place in the church kitchen.

Nancy Hendricks, St. Elmo United Methodist Church: “I always said that I would like to some Christmas, go to a city and help feed the hungry, but never had the opportunity. And I just feel that God has placed me here because this is what I really always wanted to do. I just feel that I’m meant to be here.”

Mike Rice: “They can have a banana pudding and a cake, both, yes!”

Monica came to St. Elmo’s weekly food pantry and felt so welcomed, she joined the volunteers.

Monica Jackson, Volunteer: “I love to come and talk and give people a little encouragement and hugs and let them know, ‘It’s gonna be okay.’ Cause, that’s what they did when me and my family came. It was like, They don’t even know me!’ But it was just so open-arms, so polite, so sweet.”

(woman asks Mike) “Paw Paw, you got Joanne? I got Joanne. Thank you.”

Mike and his crew now serve over 6 hundred hot meals a month… feeding the spirits of volunteers as well as hungry people.

Mike Rice: “Every event is an occasion here. Everybody deserves something special.”

(man in food line) “Thank God for St. Elmo church and the goodies they bring.”

For information on how to volunteer, contact St. Elmo United Methodist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee.
Media contact is Joe Iovino, [email protected].
This video was first posted on March 2, 2020.

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