Written by Sophie & Rachel Tita
Claire, a student now going into Grade 11, was invited by a friend to a spaghetti dinner at Thornhill Baptist Church in Galgary. “As soon as I walked in the door, I immediately felt welcomed into this community that was unlike any other I had ever experienced,” she says. “After that one evening, I was completely immersed into this loving and exciting church culture.”
Claire is not the only one who has been touched by the church’s monthly spaghetti dinners. Both the Thornhill youth group and surrounding community members experience this fellowship. The youth meet every Friday evening, with spaghetti suppers being the first event of every month. Preparation starts at 5:00 and guests drop in between 6:00 and 7:30, paying $3 for an all-you-can-eat dinner. They are greeted at the front door and, once seated, are served by a member of the youth group.
Video by Lyric Wong
The various roles fulfilled by youth include cooking, plating food for the servers, bringing food out to the guests and washing dishes. After four years of spaghetti suppers, most youth are very familiar with the jobs. Working together allows the group of students to bond, learn to take responsibility, and understand what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. It also makes them aware of the challenges that exist within a community and how serving can address needs in a neighbourhood.
The trust and reliance needed throughout the evening, as well as the interdependence of the roles that transfer food from pot to plate, means everyone must do their part to ensure success. It has consistently been one of the most popular youth nights and, as with most youth group events, spaghetti suppers would not be complete without collective singing, dancing and laughter in the kitchen. It is easy to forget how important cheerful service is in participating in the kingdom of God. Isaiah 58:10 (NLT) reads, “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.”
The lighthearted and team-oriented event is the perfect opportunity for students to invite friends from outside of the youth group, as was the case with Claire. A monthly meal is also a casual way for members of the surrounding community to get to know the church. Some church attendees use the time to get to know guests and hear their stories. This brings together people who wouldn’t normally interact, as there isn’t usually a reason or a desire for community members to become involved with local churches. Youth leader Stacy says that many guests love to see students working together and willingly serving, especially because it is something they may not see very often from today’s younger generations. Multiple guests have also begun attending the church on Sundays. As long as spaghetti suppers continue to be a way for people to experience God’s love, its purpose is being achieved.