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Children learn skills in cooking, ministering to others

 


Children learn skills in cooking, ministering to others

Aug. 26, 2004

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Lyle Jackson

Mary Patrick (left) says the cooking classes inspire her to help others.
                             

A UMNS Feature

By Shanta Bryant Gyan*

A Mississippi church has opened its kitchen to the congregation’s children, giving adult church members more time with the kids — and teaching the young people life lessons along the way.

One Saturday each month, the children of Sardis (Miss.) United Methodist Church learn basic cooking skills from adult church members, who share favorite recipes. As the children learn to mix ingredients, they learn about working together and doing for others.

 

The program allows Patrick, the grandmother of eight, to spend a block of time with her grandchildren.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Lyle Jackson

At "Christian Cooks," children under the age of 15 learn to make meals.
It also has helped church members get to know each other better, she says. “The older men and women didn’t know the kids, and the kids didn’t know the adults.” The church, 44 miles south of Memphis, Tenn., has about 220 members.

“Christian Cooks” is a hands-on ministry, and the kids literally eat up their work. They learn how to cut fruit and mix ingredients to make a kid-friendly meal. The menu varies each month, and has included meatball and sub sandwiches, tacos, chili cheese dogs, burritos and fruit salad.

“I did good — great job,” exclaims toddler Lindsey Axthelm, marveling at her work in preparing a meal.

Since the ministry started in 2003, as many as 25 children — all under 15 years old — and more than 10 adults have participated each month.

When it’s time to sit down for lunch, an adult from the church leads a devotional and shares his or her life story with the children.

A 75-year-old member told the children about the history of the church, how it was built, and what being a member meant to him, Patrick says.

The children cook not only for themselves but also for the needy in their community.

“They learn that everything we have is a gift from God and these gifts should be shared,” says the Rev. Jim Cox, church pastor.

The youngsters shared a meal with a homeless couple that came to the church seeking help. The children made cookies and other goodies for a bake sale to raise funds for the church’s Angel Tree Project, which gives children whose parents are in prison a better Christmas.

And the young cooks take cakes and other desserts to the residents of the Sardis Nursing Home. That’s the destination of an apricot cake, explains 11-year-old John Westmoreland. “It’s going to the nursing home for people who wish they could still run and play and be out in the good world.”

“This program lets people see that children can and will do missionary work for their community, given the time,” Patrick says.

The children in the program — including Patrick’s 11-year-old granddaughter, Mary — could not agree more.

“It teaches me about God,” Mary says, “and inspires me to help other people out.”

*Gyan is a freelance writer in the Washington metropolitan area.

News media contact: Tim Tanton at (615) 742-5470 or newdesk@umcom.org.

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