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Churches don't wait for Christmas, but live out tradition

By: JAKOB RODGERS
December 24, 2012
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photo - Ed Fagan and his sons Leon (left) and Eric (right) have a meal at Sacred Heart Church on Sunday, December 19, 2012. Different area churches take turns giving the meal every Sunday night. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett) Photo by
Ed Fagan and his sons Leon (left) and Eric (right) have a meal at Sacred Heart Church on Sunday, December 19, 2012. Different area churches take turns giving the meal every Sunday night. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett) Photo by  

Seven pounds of pasta. Eighteen pounds of green beans. Ten loaves of French bread, flanked by 192 cookies.

Steaming, buttered and moments from being served, the Sunday-night feast waited only for a few words from Alan Agee, spoken loudly as he clasped his hands.

“Dear Lord, we thank you for bringing us together tonight,” he said.

Two nights before Christmas, dozens of people filled the gymnasium of Sacred Heart Church, digging into piping-hot meals that have become a time-honored tradition on the city’s west side. At a time of the year when charitable giving is generally at its peak, The Lord’s Dinner — served year-round on Sundays at Sacred Heart — offered a distinct sense of comfort on this night.

Whether served the week before Christmas or in mid-January, it’s a meal the less fortunate can count on.

“These people are always so giving,” said Adilia Isaac, who has come off and on to the dinners for years. “It’s a family affair.”

The work of nine congregations with the nonprofit organization Westside CARES, The Lord’s Dinner offers a hot meal to anyone who stops by the church at 21st Street and Colorado Avenue, said Steve Brown, the organization’s executive director.

The congregations trade off cooking duties. Sunday night, Wilson United Methodist Church helped hand out 117 plates.

The meal represents a challenge felt across the nonprofit sector, Brown said. While 40 percent of the organization’s funds come in the last three months of the year, the need for services is year-round.

“One of the things we understand we need to do is measure it out,” he said.

The crowd Sunday was a mix of newcomers and regulars. Each were served the same.

No one rose to get their food. Each person — many of whom live in their cars or in friends’ houses — sat patiently. They offered smiles as churchgoers and Boy Scouts served dinner. And as usual, Sunday night’s dinner — a feast of 12 pounds of corn, seven pounds of hamburger and 14 pounds of lettuce — went quick.

Sitting alongside his sons, ages 5 and 6, Edward Fagan offered a smile.

“This is a blessing,” he said.

Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter @jakobrodgers

Facebook Jakob Rodgers

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