By LINDA M. LINONIS
Smiles are served as a side dish at Calvin’s Friendly Table, the monthly community meal hosted by Petersburg Presbyterian Church.
About 10 to 15 volunteers from the church at 13996 Youngstown-Pittsburgh Road cook and serve the meals that are scheduled from 5 to 6:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month.
Pastor Juliann “Jules” Joy said the meal was modeled after Luther’s Table offered by Zion Lutheran Church in New Middletown. Luther’s Table was named after Martin Luther, a professor of theology and a main figure in the Protestant Reformation.
Calvin’s Friendly Table recognizes John Calvin, a French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation who developed a system of Christian theology called Calvinism.
“We took the name Calvin because of his role in theology,” Pastor Joy said. “We added ‘friendly’ because we wanted to make it welcoming to our neighbors.”
Calvin’s Friendly Table began in March and will resume in January. Average attendance is between 60 and 100 people. Pastor Joy said the church was aware of hunger in the community.
During the summer, the church partnered with St. John’s Lutheran in Petersburg and Emmanuel Lutheran in New Springfield to offer lunch and a craft to children.
“We care if people are hungry in our community,” Pastor Joy said. “We wanted to make sure kids had a meal.”
The pastor said the summer program and Calvin’s Friendly Table are motivated by faith.
“The congregation is part of the community and wanted to reach out and help its neighbors,” said Pastor Joy, who has been at the church for five years.
The pastor also said Petersburg Presbyterian is a member of Springfield Township Council of Churches and Community. The churches collaborate on projects.
Elder John Schippert said the adult Sunday school is the core group but anyone in the 105-member church is welcome to pitch in. “Everyone bakes desserts, and they just show up,” he said.
A lay pastor, Schippert said the outreach is the work of the church. “It shows our unity,” he said, “and it’s a good thing to do.”
Schippert said meal coordinators change monthly. Some cooking is done in the church kitchen, and other members cook at home. The cost of each meal ranges from $200 to $250. Church members donate the food, and monetary donations are accepted.
November’s menu included ham and scalloped potatoes. Each table is centered with a decoration, the work of Darlene Janeco, a lifelong church member.
The retired elementary teacher said she “had a lot of surplus stuff for the holidays” so she uses those items to create distinctive centerpieces. One for November used a cake plate with small pumpkins surrounding a statue of Jesus.
Janeco, who is among regular volunteers, said she sees the meal as a “good thing for the community.”
The Christian fellowship, she said, benefits the community. “It’s a satisfying feeling.”
For information call the church at 330-542-3534.