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Anglican Church in Fort Macleod puts on free soup every Wednesday

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Fort Macleod’s Anglican Church is making sure people get at least one square meal a week.
Rev. Pilar Gateman and her volunteers put the soup on every Wednesday at noon at St. Andrew’s Church Hall.
There is no charge and the church volunteers have no agenda except to ensure people leave with a full belly.
“We’re just saying come on in,” Rev. Gateman said. “If you haven’t had a square meal, come eat with us. We’re not going to read scripture to you, we’re not going try to evangelize to you.”
“The way I look at it is we’re St. Francis. It’s preach the gospel always, when necessary use words. This is preaching the gospel . . . we’re doing the work he asked us to do.”
The idea for providing a weekly meal had its genesis at a youth conference Fort Macleod delegates attended last year.
While enjoying a sort of tailgate lunch in the parking lot of sandwiches prepared in advance, the Fort Macleod group noticed a young man sitting alone in his vehicle.
The young man didn’t have lunch, so the Fort Macleod group invited him to their tailgate party.
“That morning I had the sense I should make an extra sandwich,” Rev. Gateman said. “I ignored it.”
The Fort Macleod group visited with the young man and gave him some food.
That night when the group was making sandwiches in the motel room, Rev. Gateman instructed them to make two extra sandwiches.
“Everybody looked at me and said, ‘Why? We thought it was one we were short’,” Rev. Gateman said. “I said no, it’s going to be two tomorrow. I don’t know why I knew, it, I just did. I would explain it as God saying something to me.”
The next day that same young man was there, and then one of his friends arrived — also without lunch.
“So he and I started talking about this little act of God as we saw it,” Rev. Gateman said. “We began to say this is the kind of thing we need to pay attention to, just those little inklings, those gut feelings that I believe come from God.”
The Fort Macleod group then began to talk about the people who visit Christ Church looking for help: food, money, gas, lodging.
“I’m putting a band-aid on gangrene,” Rev. Gateman said.
Rev. Gateman decided that a better approach would be to get to know people, find out more and perhaps direct them to a more lasting solution.
“You have better conversation around food. When you want to visit friends a meal is the place to do it.”
Rev. Gateman started putting on a pot of canned soup. When no one turned up, she put posters around town and people began to show up for lunch.
“Folks are bringing homemade soup and they’re bringing buns,” Rev. Gateman said.
The conversations around lunch provide greater understanding of the people who need the meal. That understanding could lead to providing people with the help they need.
“I feel like we’re doing God’s work. For the people coming through the door, I’m trying to build relationships.”
Rev. Gateman encourages anyone who is struggling, having trouble making ends meet, to take up the invitation for soup and friendly conversation.
“It’s a small little thing, but it’s one meal a week they know they don’t have to struggle with,” Rev. Gateman said. “I like the idea of someone who is in that situation, who already has enough to worry about having a place to come where there is no expectations, they’re just going to have a bowl of soup and the only expectation is some company.”

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