Breaking Bread, Sharing God’s Word: Building Community In Archer City

Grub and Grace food

One of the meals served at Grub and Grace: side salad (mixed greens, smoked cheddar cheese, honey crisp apples, toasted pecans and homemade vinaigrette), braised short ribs, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, brussel sprouts, key lime pie and bread pudding.

Chef JustonGrub and Grace flourishes after micro-grant from North Texas Conference

When Pastor Silvia Wang and others at First UMC Archer City realized their church did not have many young adults, they pondered what to do. The idea of having dinners for young adults came up, thus their New Faces New Spaces opportunity, named "Grub and Grace," was born.

Rev. Wang recently spent some time with us to explain how Grub and Grace came to be and how her congregation and the city have been pivotal in its growth.

How did the concept for Grub and Grace come about?

In September 2018, two church members, my children, the youth ministry director and I attended the “New Faces, New Spaces” Vision Day at First United Methodist Church in Decatur. We talked about ideas for New Faces and New Spaces. We realized our church did not have many young adults, but that there are young adults we know who are living in Archer City and Wichita Falls (which is close to Archer City).

The idea of having dinners for young adults came up. We realized that we could ask Chef Juston Liles (who recently moved to Archer City and was attending our church) to see if he would be interested in cooking the first few monthly dinners for this new young adults ministry. After Vision Day, I invited other church leaders including the chairpersons of Missions and Evangelism and the 2018 and 2019 chairpersons of Administrative Council to be part of this Vision Team. This became the Team that prayed about and decided on how to make this new ministry a reality.

My children and youth ministry director, Megan Densmore, came up with the name “Grub and Grace” for our new ministry for and with young adults. Other church members know the owners of the Spur Hotel in Archer City and helped to secure the Spur Hotel’s dining room as the New Space for Grub and Grace. My Vision Team and I put together the New Faces New Spaces Micro-Grant application, which was submitted to the North Texas Conference. We were thrilled to receive a micro-grant of $1,000 from the North Texas Conference to start Grub and Grace. Another church member submitted an article about Grub and Grace and about our church receiving the Conference micro-grant; this article was published in Archer County News.

Dining roomWhat have you noticed about the tangible impact Grub and Grace has made in your congregation?

My congregation is excited about Grub and Grace and the creative possibilities of being the church outside the walls of the church. We are talking about Grub and Grace and thinking of ways to support Grub and Grace along with innovative ways to reach more people. I have heard of a group in the church hoping to have “Grub and Grace for ‘Aged Beef’.” Also, there is interest in reaching out to people who have graduated from high school but have not gone away to college. 

A few days ago, I preached a sermon called “Dinner for Jesus” based on John 12:1-8, and I highlighted the birth and growth of Grub and Grace. I invited my congregation to remember God’s prevenient grace and unconditional love and think of ways to share God’s unconditional love though having dinners for Jesus and for people God calls us to serve.

How has the program gained traction in your congregation and community?

I would like to thank Rev. Andy Lewis for his guidance about how to shepherd the creation and growth of Grub and Grace. We put into practice Rev. Lewis’ advice to listen to the young adults and invite the young adults to shape the growth of Grub and Grace. At the first Grub and Grace dinner in February, we asked our young adult guests what they would like to experience in these dinners. We also asked them to invite their young adult friends to come to the next dinner in March and followed up by thanking them for coming to this first dinner. We have a Grub and Grace Facebook page for getting the word out about this new ministry. A couple of young adults found out about Grub and Grace through this Facebook page. Many people are thinking about young adults they know who might be interested in coming to Grub and Grace. The reach of Grub and Grace has grown throughout Archer City, as well as parts of Iowa Park and Wichita Falls. Since February, we have seen increasing attendance in the number of young adults coming to the monthly Grub and Grace dinners at the Spur Hotel.

Megan DensmoreHow do you hope to form disciples with Grub and Grace?

At the monthly Grub and Grace dinners, after Chef Juston Liles gives a cooking demonstration and our church volunteers serve the delicious gourmet entrees and dessert, Megan Densmore speaks about food and faith using the book Taste and See:  Discovering God among Butchers, Bakers, and Fresh Food Makers, by Margaret Feinberg. The conversations after dinner have been heartwarming as we hear about food, God, family, time and community built around the table. As Grub and Grace grows, we will discern to see if our young adults would like to have a worship experience possibly on a weeknight. We’ll have to wait and see how God leads all of us! I’m proud of my church for everyone's love and support for Grub and Grace.

What advice would you offer to other churches who might be wanting to replicate a similar endeavor?

Prayer and faith in God are important.  Forming a new ministry such as New Faces New Spaces requires the efforts of the laity and the pastor. When my Vision Team members came together, it was a blessing to see how our gifts and talents are unique to us and complemented one another. I was intentional to shepherd the birth of this new ministry so that it is led by the laity (and not by the pastor).

The birth and growth of Grub and Grace came about through building connections and relationships. We continue to grow by being open to learning, making mistakes and listening to God and our young adults. God has been working on our hearts to yearn for young adults to experience and receive God’s grace in Jesus Christ. At the same time, God is inviting and helping young adults in Archer City and nearby cities to sense a yearning for the sacred.

Ministries grow with their own personalities at particular points in time. Seek God’s guidance, form a core team of church leaders, discover the vision, write specific goals and action items, and implement the vision through completing the steps of action. Reflect, evaluate, grow and be transformed by God in this exciting journey of co-creating with God.

Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2019