A ministry of soup

The annual soup supper at First United Methodist Church is a ministry in more ways than one. It raises funds so support the youths in their spiritual growth; but it is also a chance for the youths to practice serving others, said Program Coordinator Jennifer Peterson.

The supper will be served from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Monday and features homemade vegetable beef or chili and a dessert for both dine-in and to-go. Those who dine in also get relish, bread, crackers and a drink. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 kids age 12 through 3, and children under 3 are free.

This will be the 50th year of the supper, and Peterson said the kids have been looking forward to it.

“It is now our biggest fundraiser of the year. We usually serve 450 to 600 people,” Peterson said. “The kids and their parents come on Sunday night and do all of the chopping, and get everything ready to go into the soup. Then we have a crew of adults who comes in Monday and makes the soup, because the kids are usually in school. The kids come in the afternoon and do all the serving that night.”

Middle school and high school students will serve the supper, and the money goes to the high school youth group.

“The money that is raised, 100 percent goes to pay for their spiritual growth trips,” Peterson said. “In the summer we do a mission trip every year. Last summer we went to Detroit, and this coming summer we are going to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.”

The kids will work on homes, help run a Vacation Bible Study program and do cultural immersion activities.

“They’ll do things to help them learn about the culture they’re in. When we were in West Virginia, they did square dancing,” she said. The kids also go to the Young Christians weekend every spring, held at Silver Dollar City in Branson.

“They hear a lot of speakers and concerts, and it’s kind of nice to get them away from Fort Dodge and see that there are Christian youth in other parts of the country as well,” Peterson said.

High school senior Erin Trunnell has been on both of the trips and said she learned a lot from the giant youth rally.

“We go to workshops all day long, and ride roller coasters, and do all the fun things that Silver Dollar City has to offer,” Trunnell said. “All the workshops, they talk about all different aspects of your faith.

“It’s weird being surrounded by so many Christians, who have such a powerful faith. It’s really cool. I feel like I definitely grew.”

Senior Elizabeth Thomas spoke about the trip to Detroit.

“Going to Detroit, I thought it was like all the stereotypes people had been telling me, but working with Rippling Hope changed my mindset,” Thomas said. “Every day we worked on people’s houses in the community. We added a fresh coat of paint where they needed it or repaired unsafe porches. My favorite part of the trip was getting to know the homeowners we were helping.

“It took a lot of hard diligent work to make the project new again, and if I tried to slack off it wasn’t good enough. God showed me in Detroit that we as imperfect sinners are like the worn-down sheds. He gives us the tools and is there helping us, but we won’t grow in our relationship with him if we aren’t diligently working at it.”

Peterson said the youth try to keep a Christ-like perspective while serving.

“All the adults and the youth who are working that night not only view it as a fundraiser, but also as a ministry we are offering,” she said. “The kids came up with idea, they wear name tags that say ‘Your servant in Christ.’ When they start losing focus they look down at that and remember we really are here to show Christ’s love to everyone that night.

“Once we shifted the focus, it was amazing how much more smoothly everything runs. It doesn’t feel like as much work on that night.”