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In the breaking of bread, their eyes were opened


Des Moines church introduces ‘souper suppers’ to get to know their neighbors

By Kim Coulter, Central Presbyterian Church | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Central Presbyterian Church of Des Moines, Iowa is hosting “souper suppers” as a way to get to know their neighbors. In this case, it’s members of Corinthian Baptist Church. (Photo by Laura Bandstra)

LOUISVILLE — Building bridges between Central Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, Iowa, and others in the faith community is the thinking behind a series of get-to-know-you meals the congregation is calling “souper suppers.”

“It’s an opportunity to get to know others that may not look, believe or think as we do,” said Barb Schmidt, a coordinator for the suppers, which debuted Jan. 6 and will continue in early March and throughout 2019. “Hopefully, it will give us a chance to show support when so much negativity is being directed towards people of certain faiths and races.”

During the first souper supper on Jan. 6, about 40 members of Corinthian Baptist Church in Des Moines joined 40 or so people from Central Presbyterian to dine together on soup, bread, salads and desserts.

Connie DePond, a member of Central’s World and Community Concerns Committee, which organized the suppers, said the conversation ranged from styles of church music to how a long-lost friend and member of Corinthian Baptist Church was getting along in a long-term care facility.

“I find myself looking forward to meeting with other congregations in the months to come to connect and share experiences and stories,” she said.

The concept for the event was to invite similar numbers of guests and Central Presbyterian Church members to sit at each table. While enjoying dinner, committee members offered up questions to get the conversation started.

Members of Central Presbyterian Church and Corinthian Baptist Church pray before enjoying their souper supper together. (Photo by Barb Schmidt)

It was a little like having new neighbors over to dinner in order to get to know them, said the Rev. Wallace W. Bubar, Central Presbyterian Church’s pastor.

“Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. That starts with getting to know who your neighbors are,” he said. “In the gospels, you see how much of Jesus’ ministry was spent around tables — having dinner with people, in fellowship with people.”

“So what we’re doing here this evening,” he told fellow diners, “is deeply rooted in our faith tradition.”

In the coming months, Central Presbyterian Church plans to reach out to other faith groups, including the Muslim Community Organization Masjid An-Noor, Tifereth Israel Synagogue and First Arabic Presbyterian Church.

For Schmidt, the church-to-church approach is a more localized version of the way communities often reach out to others across vast oceans.

“Just as the City of Des Moines has ‘sister cities’ around the world,” she said, “we would like Central to have ‘sister and brother congregations’ around Des Moines, Iowa!”


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