On Labor Day, Hot Meal Ministry celebrates 20 years of serving the people of our West Fullerton neighborhood a hot, nourishing meal, every Monday night, at Orangethorpe Christian Church. This ministry got its start in 1993, when OCC member Paula Todd (1940-2004), whose picture you see at the right, saw a great need in our neighborhood and persuaded her pastor that their church should try to address that need. Four other Fullerton churches were invited to join OCC in providing a meal every Monday night.
Pastor Bob Rohdenburg asked me to see if there was any interest at OUMC in accepting the Christian Church's invitation to join it in Paula's ministry. The response from our churchfamily was favorable from the very beginning, so Bob asked me to assemble and direct the team which would prepare and serve a meal each month. This really hasn't been such a difficult task, since there is usually no lack of willing workers.
Ever since the ministry begin, OUMC has served dinner on the fourth Monday of each month. We got off to a good start September 27, 1993. With the late Mary Harvey in charge of our kitchen crew, we served 66 guests that night. For several years, Mary continued to be a regular leader in planning, preparing and serving meals. The numbers of people served grew rapidly until, after a few years, we sometimes saw more than 200 people come in for dinner.
Over the years, the parishioners of five small local churches have never missed serving a Monday night meal. Several years ago, a power outage at OCC almost caused the streak to be broken, but our church made its kitchen and fellowship hall available on short notice and the ministry continued. Since its beginning, HMM has provided more than 165,000 complete meals.
Some of the people who come for dinner are homeless. Some are unemployed. Many are the "working poor" of our own neighborhood who have a hard time making ends meet. A lot of our guests are children and babies. No one is ever turned away.
The cost of groceries averages about a dollar per meal. Besides buying the ingredients for each meal we serve, our church has helped provide clothing, baby food and toys to Hot Meal Ministry guests and their children. For several years, we have helped the Christian Church meet its overhead expenses for paper goods and other "common shelf" items, as well as for equipment which has worn out. None of these expenses have ever been a part of OUMC's annual budget, but have been paid for by very generous donations by our members and friends, and by grants received from the California-Pacific Annual Conference and Griswold Industries.
We invite the support of all churchfamily members for Hot Meal Ministry through your financial contributions as well as through coming to help us serve a meal each month.
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me..." — Matthew 25:35