Community Lunch on Capitol Hill
By Maynard Atik, Transition Pastor at Central Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill in Seattle
For 35 years, on Tuesdays and Fridays, Central Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill in Seattle has hosted, and with additional help, prepared and served lunch for 100 plus Capitol Hill Community neighbors at each meal. Over 52,000 meals have been served annually. Our guests are on very limited incomes; the majority of our guests are homeless. Hearty and nutritious meals, such as ribs, chicken, meatloaf, vegetables, green salad or vegetarian, sustain our guests for another day or two. These guests are the same people Jesus is talking about in this classic parable from the gospel of Matthew.
In addition to a good meal, extra sandwiches, fruit, loaves of bread, sleeping bags, blankets, clothing and hygiene items are available for those who need them. Twenty-five tons of food has been donated from various supermarkets annually. The King County medical van and the medical teams dental van have made regular visits to provide healthcare as well. Case Managers are working with the guests to secure housing and other key resources.
Central Lutheran appreciates all the volunteer workers from sister Northwest Washington Synod congregations, as well as other communities of faith, students from St. Francis of Assisi in Burien, students from Seattle University and the University of Washington. We are thankful for volunteers from Seattle businesses including Swedish Hospital, Microsoft Artefact, Data Insights, Partners Insurance Group, Pagliacci’s Pizza. Other volunteers come from construction workers, neighborhood families, and many individuals who have heard about the Community Lunch and wanted to serve and be in community with their neighbors.
Jeff Wolcott, the executive director, is a member of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Renton. This work has been transformational for him. He started as a volunteer along with St. Matthew’s members, and then he became a board member and later was offered the executive director’s position. He loves his work and the guests being served. Jeff‘s staff of five are welcoming and assure their guests a warm safe place where they can enjoy a good meal and comfort. The 20+ volunteers arrive and jump right in, peeling onions, making sandwiches, slicing tomatoes, cutting lettuce, arranging the dessert tables, cooking, sautéing, setting up tables and chairs, making everything ready - making space for their neighbors. The atmosphere is warm, friendly, caring.
the Christ to others in serving them meals is one thing.
the Christ to the overlooked and ignored, who come to lunch, conveys to them that they are deeply loved by God. To
the Christ in the overlooked and ignored, while serving them meals is quite another thing.
the Christ in the guests at the Community Lunch on Capitol Hill confers a dignity upon them, which for many has been stripped away.
We heard from our friends at Community Lunch on Capitol Hill that during this COVID-19 crisis, they are not only serving meals on Tuesday & Friday, but have added dinners on Wednesday & Thursday. They are serving meals-to-go outside. Located across the street from Cal Anderson Park, guests can spread out & eat. Thank you for adapting to these unprecedented days!