With the help of 50 volunteers preparing during Holy Week and Easter Sunday, First UMC Madison was able to serve over 300 people at their annual Easter Community Meal. Karen Andro, Director of Hope’s Home Ministries, brought together volunteers from the church and throughout the community to serve together. This meal has become a cherished holiday event bringing together neighbors without homes and anyone who enjoys community.

Life-long friendships have been made over the 35-year history of this holiday meal. Chef Joel Girard, who works as a Guest Services Specialist for The Beacon and Matt Julian, medical social worker for MeriterUnity Point, led preparations for the meal. Both Joel and Matt help our neighbors without homes in their professional lives. They share a passion for the culinary arts and social justice. Pianist Doug White, who has performed in the Madison-area for more than four decades and studied with Duke Ellington, shared jazz, popular music and original songs.

The meal was featured on Madison news station NBC15. In the video, Andro says, “What it does for us is when we invite people in and extend our table, we're inviting neighbors in. Some neighbors don't have homes. Some neighbors do, some are suffering job loss, deaths in a family, all sorts of different situations. We're bringing people together to be together on a holiday so on that holiday, we come together in a way that isn't solely for food. It is for love. At the end of the day, love is at the heart of it.”

Watch the NBC15 video here.