New Castle News

January 21, 2014

Soup fellowship continues as part of holiday

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — There was no Martin Luther King Jr. Day Freedom Walk Monday, but the soup fellowship continued.

The ladies department at New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ at 1710 Moravia St. cooked for three days to serve their customary selection of soups and sandwiches. Youngsters from the church’s children’s department served.

But without the march, the crowd was slow to arrive.

“We do this every year, so we still anticipate people will drop in through the day and after work,” said Ann Bennett, who is in charge of the kitchen.

At the end of the day, Bennett said, the women deliver soup to the church’s sick and shut-ins, freeze leftovers or take home what is left.

“That’s what we’ll do this year. We’ll use up what we have.”

Selections featured corn chicken chowder, beef vegetable, wedding, chicken noodle hamburger stew, stuffed pepper, turkey vegetable, 15-bean, Great Northern bean, chili, white chicken chili and mean green bean. The menu also included ham salad and egg salad sandwiches, corn bread and cookies.

For at least a dozen years, Bennett said, the women of the congregation have contributed their time and talent to the cause. Many of the ingredients also are donated, she added.

The soup fellowship began when the congregation was still at its smaller Long Avenue location. It relocated to Moravia Street about eight years ago.

“Our pastor, the Rev. Gary Clark, suggested the soup fellowship,” she said. “He said we should give back to the community.”

Bennett, Clark’s sister, said the women thought about what they could contribute and someone suggested soup.

The first year they offered only three varieties.

“We didn’t know how many would come and if we would have enough,” she recalled.

“We prayed that we would not run out, that we would not have to send anyone away hungry. Our prayer of increase was heard. We’ve always had more than plenty.”

Clark said the march was called off because of the recent extremely cold temperatures.

“It was disappointing, especially for the children, who were looking forward to it. But we thought it was the right thing to do,” he said.

“I hope someone will be able to organize a march again for next year.”

Because Martin Luther King Jr. was born in January, the weather on his day will always be cold, Clark said. “We’re looking at possibilities of other community events during warmer weather.”

One is Juneteenth.

“They have a big Juneteenth celebration in Farrell,” Clark said. “We may look into something similar in New Castle.”

Juneteenth, dating back to June 19, 1865, is said to be the day Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and enslaved people were free.

The announcement came two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.