Calvary United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, received a $5,000 grant from the Golden Cross Foundation. Money from this grant was used to help fund a feeding ministry.
Beginning with a few men who enjoyed grilling, the ministry started about 10 years ago. Their first grilling gig was cooking for the church’s Back to Calvary intergenerational picnic. An instant hit, members dubbed their small group the Holy Smokers.
“Back then the Holy Smokers was a ministry by and for church members,” said Paul Cole, Calvary’s co-chair of missions and one of the Holy Smokers’ founding members. “But thanks to group members’ enthusiasm, shenanigans, and delicious Calvary cuisine, invitations to grill for outside groups started coming in.”
One such grilling outreach was for Urban Housing Solutions (UHS) on Murfreesboro Road in Nashville. This nonprofit group provides affordable housing for the city’s homeless, low income, and workforce populations. A UHS board member, who is a partner with Calvary on the Habitat Unity Build, approached the Holy Smokers and asked if they could provide a meal during the summer.
“Many of the UHS residents had too much month left at the end of the money,” Cole said. “When that happened, they often ate crackers and ketchup to get by.”
The Holy Smokers responded with an old-fashioned picnic.
“We wanted to provide residents with a good meal,” said Cole. “We grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and provided sides such as deviled eggs, watermelon, baked beans, sweat tea, and homemade ice cream, cookies, and brownies.”
Over time, the ministry grew. Resources became stretched thin.
“We were feeding groups of summer interns for Project Transformation, reading tutors for a local elementary school, and several groups consisting of older adults,” said Cole. “Holy Smoker members wanted to continue the feeding ministry but we knew we needed additional funding.”
Thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, the Holy Smokers can grill on. Money from the grant is used to help provide meals for older adult ministries and functions both within and outside of the church.
During 2019’s spring, summer, and fall grilling seasons, Holy Smokers provided more than 1,290 meals for children, youth, adults, and older adults. The multi-generational facet also touches today’s Holy Smokers.
“We have volunteers ranging from 6 to 85,” Cole said. “Together we’re making a tasty impact by showing and sharing God’s love. I’ve had people come up to me and say ‘I haven’t had homemade ice cream in 50 years.’ It’s a pleasant memory for them and provides peace of mind because, for that moment, they are not worried about where their next meal is coming from.”
Thanks in part to the Golden Cross Foundation Grant, God’s love, abundance, and grace is being shared…one burger and dog at a time.