Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and All Who Serve & Are Served

The 35th Anniversary of the Soup Kitchen is a great cause for Thanksgiving. I am only sad that I shall not be part of the formal celebrations since I will be in Australia for my elder sister Jenifer’s funeral and subsequent interment. Having known about the Soup Kitchen since 1983 when I first met Father Rand Frew while I was pursuing post graduate studies at General Seminary, and having been a supporter of its remarkable work since returning to New York in 2003, you can imagine my delight when the Bishop of New York asked me to consider being Interim Pastor of Holy Apostles and Interim Director of the Soup Kitchen. It was like a dream come true! A priest friend commented to me “Lucky you, working with the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the Diocese of New York.” I am not sure whether successive directors would believe that appellation but I have no doubt that the Soup Kitchen deserves it even though it is not always acknowledged as such. For me the Soup Kitchen is the Christian Gospel in action; a daily reminder that our God is a hospitable God; a God who has compassion for the hungry and is active in providing for them. The fact that the daily feeding of our guests takes place in the nave of the church only heightens this deep theological connection. Every Sunday as I stand at the altar table presiding or assisting at the Eucharist I am conscious of the connectedness between what we say and do on Sunday and what happens each weekday in the Soup Kitchen. God’s hospitality in feeding us with his Son Jesus Christ is mirrored in our feeding of the hungry day by day. It is an impressive case of “Faith in action.” Earlier in the year I was showing a Pentecostalist pastor around the Soup Kitchen. He was keen to do something similar in his own setting. He was “blown away” by the way we serve in the church. He said that in his tradition they would normally preach to the guests before feeding to make sure they understood the spiritual dimension of the ministry. But he said at Holy Apostles the connection is so obvious to those with eyes to see without a word being said! Over the years there has been talk of separating the parish from the soup kitchen. This development is not uncommon in church founded outreach programs. However, in a major review in the past 12 months it was agreed that the Soup Kitchen’s relationship to the parish made it the unique and special institution it is. To sustain this relationship, I would encourage all parishioners and friends of Holy Apostles to actively support and take an active interest in the Soup Kitchen through volunteering or by supporting it financially. Thanks be to God for all who have been fed over the past 35 years and for all the staff and volunteers who have made this possible.