Local churches to host free Christmas meals for community

NILES — Local churches are looking to give the gift of food and fellowship this holiday season by hosting free Christmas dinners for the community.

Two free Christmas dinners will be available. Wesley United Methodist Church will host its free dinner at noon Tuesday, Dec. 25, at the church, 302 Cedar St. That same day, Portage Prairie United Methodist Church will host a dinner from 2:30 to 6 p.m. at the church, 2450 Orange Road in Niles.

Amy Wade, who is volunteering to help host the dinner at Wesley, said she was happy to be able to carry on the church’s longstanding tradition to serve the meal on Christmas.

She said those who attend find more than a home cooked meal to enjoy.

“The sense of being with other people, that is a big thing,” Wade said. “It can be a lonely time of year for a lot of families if they are separated.”

Wade said she sees the dinner as an opportunity to fill a need. Typically, they serve more than 50 people at the Christmas meal.

For their part, Pastor Rap Posnik, said this will be the first time that Portage Prairie is hosting the Christmas dinner. However, Posnik is no stranger to hosting free community dinners. Before he became a pastor in Berrien County, he served at East Jordan United Methodist church and helped to host several Christmas dinners.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to sit down and meet new faces,” Posnik said. “The goal is that for anyone who is out there alone, this is an opportunity where they don’t have to be.”

Like Wade, Posnik said the meals also offer consolation to those who are not able to be with family during the holiday.

He invited community members to take part and enjoy a holiday dinner, complete with their choice of turkey or ham. Posnik will also bring his guitar and sing songs for those at the dinner.

Volunteers and congregants from Wesley and Portage Prairie will come together to cook and prepare the dinner for their community. Wesley United Methodist is still seeking volunteers to participate. Those wishing to volunteer may call the church to sign up.

Both churches are asking for people interested in attending to call and make a reservation. Portage Prairie has room for only 35 people. A seat can be reserved by calling Posnik at (231) 883-1985.

Wesley United Methodist Church does not have a limit on the number of seats, but is asking people call to reserve a space by Dec. 21 so that volunteers know how many to expect. The church can be reached at (269) 683-7250. Wesley volunteers will also offer a ride service to anyone who needs to be picked up for the meal.

Posnik reminded the Berrien and Cass communities that they are not alone this holiday.

“They don’t have to bring anything, just their presence,” Posnik said.

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