From January 2016 we have been organizing Sunday lunches on alternate weeks all in the Happy Coffee Bean Café in King Street, Bangor. The attendances at the Queens Parade Café had gone down to only 4-5 people each time and the volunteers were getting a bit disillusioned. I prayed about it, as did others, and the word God gave us was ‘abundance’, which led on to ‘abundantly’.

John 10:10 “The thief comes to steal and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Also, very reassuringly: Eph 3:14-21 “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to His power that works in us.”

We met and praised God for all He had done in the last 6 months and we were amazed at the way He worked through us at that meeting to bring about a solution – have all the meals in the King Street Café on a Sunday. Women who had originally thought they couldn’t volunteer on a Sunday started realizing it was only 1 Sunday in every 8 weeks they would be required (we had 4 teams of 6 volunteers) and all agreed this was the way forward.

And so it has proved! 18-25 people are being served, usually including one or two families, on alternate Sundays. The atmosphere is great, trust has been established and some people have asked for prayer. The teams are continuing to work well together. Elaine Mercer, Jane Grant and I are leading the teams. We are looking for another team leader. We would also welcome volunteers from other churches. All our volunteers are from 3 Methodist churches in Bangor.

‘Referrals’ come from Simon Community, SVP, Storehouse, YMCA, Christians against Poverty (CAP). 40 invitations, with the menu on, are given out in Storehouse food hampers each week. Invitations are also sent out digitally to some organisations within Bangor Inter-Church Community Initiative (BICCI) and also to the very helpful North Down Community Partnership. People are asked to text or telephone 0759 4235 020 before 5pm on the Saturday to book a place. We are grateful to one of our volunteers, Anne, who takes the bookings each week for us, getting to know those who phone.

We recently felt challenged by God to continue the meals alternate weeks over the summer, rather than taking a break. Helen Sloan explained that Storehouse North Down doesn’t take a break over the summer and we realize the need is still there. Everyone has responded well to this and arranged swaps with others as needed, due to holiday arrangements.

We currently have all the money we need – for food for the 3-course meals. We have applied to the Lidl Community Fund and people in CMC are still donating. I hope to organize a Coffee Morning in July. We need to work at getting a Constitution and other things in place so that we can apply for other grants. We are very grateful to Philip Magee who runs the Happy Coffee Bean Café in King Street for letting us use his premises on alternate Sundays. It’s a hidden gem in a Bangor side street! Good atmosphere and great coffee and scones!

We are registered with Ards and North Down council as a community group.

We thank God for supplying all we need in ‘abundance’.

Elizabeth Porter