St John’s Anglican Church in Salisbury has joined forces with churches of eight other denominations in the area to offer a free meal to all comers every Friday evening.
Parish priest, Father Peter Jin, is working with two Pentecostal pastors, a Uniting Church parish, and a Baptist pastor, on the project which began in mid-August with only a handful of people but now serves around 80 people each week.
“The St John’s parishioners invite people come into the halls where they can have a hot meal. During the winter months the number grew steadily from 20 people at first,” Father Peter says.
The project had its genesis when Father Peter joined the parish and got to know other denominations in the area.
“I was very happy to get to know them and talk about how can we work together to bring people to become Anglican or Pentecostal. We just want to serve the community and bring people to Christ, not necessarily to become Anglicans,” he says.
St John’s was chosen as the venue because of its ideal location.
The meal serve people in need either economically or seeking friendship and company.
The team preparing and serving the meal consists of 12 volunteers in all, including an 89-year-old from St John’s, Pastor Rad Runjo from Hope central, Pastor Justin Gutteridge from Salisbury Uniting Church, Pastor Mike Hey from Andrew Farm Community Church, Pastor Peter from Burmese Church, Salisbury Park, and four lay leaders from other churches in the area – Engage church, Kadina, Gateway Church, Salisbury, Freedom Ministries, Edinburgh, Uniting church, Ridgehaven,
The evening starts with a five minute testimony and there is a team of musicians on hand to lead singing.
“People pray for others after the meal if they feel the need and I let them use another room for this,” says Father Peter. “Once people leave at 8:30pm and we start to pack up and people from all the denominations worship together for a while.”
Currently Father Peter and the other pastors are paying for the meal out of their own pocket but the group is hopeful they will find sponsorship for the service.
“We have recently written to local businesses asking for donations of food so we can increase this ministry to reach and serve more people,” Father Peter says.
“I am going to talk to the mayor and the CEO of the council about this ministry, too,” he says.