Kitchen Ministry Team Creates Community Through Cooking
Fifteen years ago, Susan Boddy answered an invitation from Pastor Jay Langley to prepare a meal for a few newcomers to Dutilh Church. She inquired about who was responsible for the disorganized kitchen area. His response, “You are!” prompted Susan to action and marked the unofficial beginning of today’s thriving Kitchen Ministry.
Though many members of the Dutilh family have likely tasted the fruits of Kitchen Ministry labor, people may not realize how many other ministries and events are touched by this group of volunteers. Susan and her team prepare funeral luncheons, snacks for Vacation Bible School participants, and the annual Christmas breakfast. They provide meals for Dutilh’s Lenten Dinner series and the Fall Kick-Off event.
The Helping Hands Ministry, coordinated by Kim Zacherl, was initiated by Susan as a way to support families and individuals welcoming new babies or dealing with an illness. The coffee and cookies served in Dutilh’s Café after services are under the umbrella of the Kitchen Ministry as well. Recently, Susan has begun cooking for the Faithful Followers luncheons.
“When I made it known that Susan would cook the December lunch, I heard nothing but ‘Hallelujahs!’” explained Fay Bailiff, who leads the Faithful Followers Ministry. “When people know Susan is cooking, they show up. Everyone loves her food,” she said.
Fay said she appreciates Susan’s approach to the ministry. “Everything she does, she does it with a smile on her face,” Fay said. “She’s great to work with—she’ll listen to my suggestions or offer us options.”
Susan—who personally volunteers over 1,000 hours annually with the Kitchen Ministry and said her team puts in more than 1,600 hours—explained that cooking is a labor of love. The Kitchen Ministry fulfills all three aspects of Dutilh Church’s mission: Love God, Love Others, Love to Serve.
“We do this because we love God,” Susan said. “We love others by supporting other ministry teams and helping them succeed,” she continued. “And this ministry is service. We have helped people both inside and outside the church. We have a multitude of opportunities to do something nice for someone else. Meals bring people together and create an opportunity to engage with people on a personal level.”
One particular interaction that stands out for Susan is the meal her Kitchen Ministry team prepared for the young residents at MHY Family Services during the summer of 2018. The meal followed a worship service led by Pastor Tom and Pastor Jim, Susan said, and the entire campus was invited.
“We asked ahead of time about the kids’ favorite foods, and they like pasta,” Susan said. “So even though it was an outdoor picnic in their pavilion on a really hot night, we made pasta. They loved it!” The Kitchen Ministry team’s efforts also meant that the regular Sunday evening kitchen staff at MHY Family Services was able to enjoy a night off.
Susan said the best parts about the Kitchen Ministry for her are watching people enjoy the meals they create and the friendships she has developed with the volunteers. She encouraged others to consider getting involved. “It’s a good way to meet people,” Susan said, “and you don’t have to know how to cook! Anyone can stir and chop, and I will show them how to use a knife. It’s not about knowing how to cook. It’s about doing something for someone else.”
Susan welcomes new volunteers of all ages, in any capacity. Even families with young children can volunteer together to host the Sunday morning Café. A favorite perk for kids who host, Susan said, is that they get to choose the type of cookies that will be offered.