PIKE COUNTY, Mo. — The little church that has a far-reaching reputation for helping during times of struggle or need is doing so again. Clarksville United Methodist will host a free soup luncheon from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27. It’s part of Eagle Days festivities. Homemade chicken noodle and chili will be served. There will also be bread and desserts with coffee and hot chocolate. Free will contributions are welcome, and will be donated to the church-sponsored Girl Scouts troop.
“A hot bowl of soup or chili on a cold winter day is like a hug from the inside,” said organizer Janie Busch. “We look forward to welcoming everyone to come in out of the cold, warm up, relax and refresh.”
The luncheon will be the parish’s first since the COVID pandemic in 2020. Prior to that, the tiny congregation had hosted fund-raising meals for Eagle Days, Applefest and Lent. Proceeds were used for a variety of church projects, including restoration of the elegant stained glass windows featured on all four sides of the 117-year-old building at the corner of Highway 79 and Howard Street.
The basement kitchen has served as an informal community headquarters during frequent floods of the last 30 years. Volunteers from across America and even overseas could count on a place to get a bite to eat or take a break.
“Our church has a long history of feeding our community,” Busch said. “Also, part of Christ’s teachings in Acts 2 is to break bread together. The communal meal provides a great opportunity to get to know our neighbors better.” This year’s free luncheon is a way the church can thank the community for its support. With fewer than 15 people at Sunday services, the congregation could easily throw in the towel. But Busch is optimistic about the future of church endeavors, and is thankful that the backing has crossed denominational lines.
“To me, it’s not important that people know our doctrine or dogma,” she said. “They just need to know we love them.”
The worst of COVID appears to be over and a floodwall is being built to prevent Mississippi River inundations. Even with the progress – and no matter if the church in the years ahead decides on free meals or paid dinners – people can count on Clarksville United Methodist offering food for the body and soul when challenges arise.
“Remember, where two or more Methodists are gathered, there will be a casserole!” Busch laughed.
Janie Busch stirs a pot of soup in the Clarksville United Methodist Church kitchen.
CUTLINES FOR PHOTOS: Clarksville United Methodist Church member Penny Wombles serves chicken noodle to Mary and Ricky Fournier during Eagle Days in 2020. This year’s church soup luncheon is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 27.