From September through May, a church in Michigan serves a gourmet meal on the second Tuesday of every month to as many as 60 single moms.
From 6:30 to 7:30, they eat dinner at elegantly set tables. The meal is prepared and served by a team of volunteers, and a hostess from the church sits at each table to help each person at the table feel welcome, comfortable and valued.
The church works hard to make every aspect of the evening special, partly because most of these single moms don’t have many opportunities to be pampered. The underlying message is most important: A loving God loves them extravagantly.
After dinner, someone announces options for the second hour of the evening. For example, moms might choose to take part in a parenting class, accompany someone from the church to a quiet place for prayer, or participate in a topic-based small group discussion.
People from both inside and outside the church lead the discussions. Past discussions have included a representative from the local community college discussing how single moms could find financial aid for additional schooling and a special education advocate suggests ways moms could address problems their children might be having in the school system. Women from the church have led discussions on topics such as anger toward oneself and others, dating God’s way, and building positive experiences during the holidays.
After women participate in various options, the Pink Bag Boutique opens. The Boutique began when moms were asked to make a list of items that would be especially helpful for them. People in the church were given the list and encourage to buy something for single moms each time they shopped for their own families. The church has responded generously and consistently, donating everything from food to toiletries to books. Each month, single moms are given a shopping bag and encouraged to fill it.
As the single moms are enjoying dinner and then fellowship, their children are fed and cared for. A team of volunteers oversees each room, ensuring that the food and after-dinner activities are age-appropriate and appealing.
By developing loving, nurturing relationships in a warm, welcoming environment, this church hopes the love of God will be revealed to these single moms. Some are Christians; others aren’t; some are rediscovering their faith. The goal is to reach out to them, wherever they are in their faith journey, with the love of Jesus and to create an environment that encourages women to at least ask questions about God. And over time, as they feel accepted and loved, they begin to reveal their hearts in the one-to-one relationships that develop in this atmosphere.
Candace McMahan and Jan Kershner are friends who have been in the same book club forever. At least it feels like forever. But in a good way!