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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We should welcome others, not turn them away

Editor’s Note: The following letter is in regards to the front page of the Nov 25-26 issue of The SNAP.

What a juxtaposition of issues in Stanly County to plainly see on the front page. At the top, “Heated words exchanged over church permit”, and at the bottom, “Professor, Stanly native calls for people to come together, listen to each other.”

Stanly News & Press has done our county a great favor in bringing forward these two ways of looking at the world. Maybe, just maybe, there are some who will recognize that coming together and listening to each other is better than continuing down the path of anger and exclusion.

In one instance some people are angry because SCCM and the Richfield U Methodist Church want to establish a ministry to welcome and feed the hungry. In the other, there is a call to come and reason together from someone who has experienced other’s anger and exclusion.

According to the report of the Richfield town meeting, someone said, “Church is where you worship, not invite people in to eat.” What? Churches don’t exist to welcome the stranger and feed the hungry? Has the gentleman never heard what Jesus says in Matthew that whoever welcomes the stranger welcomes Him? That whoever feeds the hungry feeds Him? Welcoming the stranger and feeding the hungry are exactly what Christian churches do, among other ministries.

Our friends at the Norwood Community Table say that people go there to eat. They don’t go there to take drugs or steal.

Our farmers and my husband and I have been donating food from our fields and gardens for years, so we’ve been there at all times during the day over the past 15 years. Never once have we seen or heard of a problem.

Sure, there is bound to be an occasional negative situation, but that happens almost anywhere humans come together. Does that mean that a Christian ministry of welcoming and serving the hungry, the poor and the lonely should be discounted?

We believe that those neighbors and others who have the mistaken impression that a new Community Table would be a threat to their community would change their minds if they would go and help serve food at the Community Tables in Albemarle and in Norwood. When we, ourselves, have served lunch or dinner, we have prepared the food and served it, provided a prayer of thanks, and have been hosts to sit with the “guests” to share the meal together.

If your hearts are open to sharing what you have, as Jesus commanded, and if your heart is open to meeting and listening to people who are in need or suffering, you will want to welcome this ministry to your community in Richfield. You will experience God’s love when you see yourself in “the other,” and “the other” in you.

It’s what Jesus would do.

Nancy C. Bryant
Norwood