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In 2016 St. Stephen’s hosted its first Empty Bowl Dinner.

We made connections with local community centers, schools, and potters to provide us with a large variety of bowls to give to attendees at the dinner.

We made connections with local restaurants, bakeries, and churches to provide soups, breads, and desserts.

We made connections with food pantry volunteers and supporters, and their friends and neighbors, all of whom looked forward to the event year after year.

The Covid shutdown brought an end to the event. We couldn’t justify cramming 150 people into the Social Hall for the event.

Yes, the shutdown is over, but church leadership made a conscious decision to not continue the event. There were many reasons. We didn’t have anyone at church who was keen to take over leadership. People were still wary of being in large groups. The restaurants and bakeries we had worked with were in precarious financial situations.

But we still had plenty of bowls on hand.

We took over 100 bowls to the 2023 Synod Assembly and set them up on a table in the vendor section. There was a variety of bowls made by students and professionals.

We encouraged people to take one or two, they were free.

I lost track of how many looked at me after I told them they were free and said, “Why?”

“Because we got them for free.”

Most people were hesitant. Some people looked at the bowls, went away, and came back, and some were absolutely thrilled with the opportunity. It was interesting to see how hesitant people were to take advantage of a free opportunity. It was fun to connect with people and explain why the bowls existed. One pastor took about 15 bowls to show her church as she tries to get a similar event going at her church.

Thanks to some last-minute “selling” by Dave Warner, all of the bowls were distributed to new homes.

St. Stephen’s is no longer hosting an Empty Bowl Dinner. We’ve shifted focus to our Coffee for Peace event as part of Delaware Peace Week.

It’s been through several iterations of musicians and food options. Our focus right now is “Peace of Pizza” with free pizza and ice cream.

It’s a chance to sit down with our neighbors, food pantry volunteers, and food pantry clients and have a conversation with them.

It’s a chance to connect.

Oh, and we’ll have bowls available for free.

- Ann Iona Warner

PS: If you would like to volunteer to help with the Peace of Pizza event, let Michele Torchia or the church office know.

Know that you and your friends and neighbors are invited to attend the event, enjoy the free food, music and conversation. October 13.


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