Pastor's Breakfast Brings Small Community Together
By: Rev. Meg Gaston
When we find ourselves living in remote places it can be hard to find ways to fellowship. If you find yourself in a small town with no places to gather, perhaps it is time to consider making the local diner a new favorite for community gathering. Lonnie Grose serves a three-point charge in Southern Anson County, NC, and realized he needed to find a way to bring his three churches together.
The Coyote Grill, a local restaurant on the outskirts of Morven NC, had been operating for some time and was really trying to build up their business. Lonnie asked if they could work with him to serve breakfast to his church group on the first Saturday of the month, and Jonathon, the restaurant owner, was very happy to host the event. From there - First Saturday Breakfast - or Pastor’s breakfast as some call it, was born.
From the start, Pastor Lonnie wanted his churches to know that this would be a time of Christian fellowship, they would not need to bring their Bibles, and he would not be trying to beat people over the head with sermons. Rather, Lonnie wanted the community to see what Christians looked like outside of the church - that they were welcoming, open, and friendly.
Slowly, this gathering grew from around ten people the first time to about 20% of his churches coming to have breakfast and fellowship with one another. This community quickly became a place that others who weren’t connected with the church saw God’s love in a positive way. It was a gathering for people to talk about God and the church with each other, where they didn’t see an opportunity to do so before simply because there was no local place for people to hang out. In fact, it was such an attraction to the community that some of the people they met started to attend their Sunday and Wednesday services.
The church does not financially sponsor this group, but rather everyone pays for their own breakfast. The owner of the restaurant offered them a great deal on the breakfast bar. At Christmas time, the Coyote Grill hosted a Christmas party with Pastor Lonnie and his wife Debbie dressed like Santa and Mrs. Claus. Local residents and businesses, church members and the restaurant donated over 100 toys, and the restaurant served breakfast for free. This was a great day for the church, the restaurant and the community to come together and showed just how successful having a place to gather outside of the church could be.
Jonathon and his staff at the Coyote Grill have been a great partner with the church. From the beginning, they have been supportive of what these churches are trying to do in reaching the community. Pastor Lonnie understands that in a divisive community, it is essential for the church to be seen as loving and welcoming to all people, and that is exactly what has happened in this First Saturday Pastor’s Breakfast... and Pastor Lonnie says “To God be the Glory”!
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