serving_spoon_logoBrittney Raby – Staff Writer

Each Thursday at 6 p.m. sharp, community volunteers set up a warm dinner at the Franklin Memorial Park for the community. Serving 40 to 60 people each week, volunteers serve the food, which is provided by local churches.

“We are able to reach people and share a warm meal,” said Bonnie Pickartz who helped start The Serving Spoon. “It’s just about fellowshipping and sharing a meal with our friends, and that’s what we do every Thursday.”

When Discover Church, the church Pickartz attends, announced plans for an “I Love My Town,” Sunday to volunteer in the community, Pickartz said doing something with The Serving Spoon just seemed like the right fit.

“The Serving Spoon is made possible because of the churches in our community who not only donate food each week, but who also volunteer their time to serve on Thursdays,” said Pickartz. “Like other churches in Macon County, Discover Church has helped The Serving Spoon so partnering with them for their day of service in the community just made sense.”Discover Church Logo

On March 6, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., The Serving Spoon and Discover Church will set up on Main Street in Franklin under the gazebo on town square serving breakfast to go.

“We are excited to be partnering with The Serving Spoon to provide ‘Breakfast To-Go’ for those in need in our county,” said Ben Windle, Lead Pastor of Discover Church. “Discover Church and volunteers will be providing pastries, breakfast sandwiches, juice, and coffee. Franklin is moving forward in some incredible ways. Proverbs 22:9 tells us that ‘the generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.’ We believe that, as Franklin grows, it will always be known as the best place to live, play, work, and worship, and the way we take care of our brothers and sisters in need will be what sets us apart and leads us to blessing.”

The “Breakfast to Go” event downtown is just one of the ways the congregation of Discover Church plans to serve the Macon County community on this Sunday. Recognizing needs at CareNet of Macon County and at Teen Challenge of the Smokies, Discover Church is providing both organizations with a $500 donation and plans to send an army of volunteers on Sunday to help wherever needed.

“Through a series of surveys, CareNet has discovered that additional hours would be beneficial to the families they serve,” said Windle. “Discover Church will have the opportunity to expand CareNet’s food pantry hours on a Sunday. We’ll be doing everything from intake, paperwork processing and filing, shopping with guests, checking out their selection, etc. Also, a team will be heading over to CareNet’s Thrift Shop to help prepare them to have their best year ever.”

Shaina Adkins, Executive Director of CareNet is excited for Discover Church’s day of service and plans to launch SunDAY service at CareNet to create more opportunities for area churches to help in the future. “We are beyond excited to participate in the “I love my town” day of service with Discover Church,” said Adkins. “When we were first approached we discussed several service projects and ended up with what we’re calling SunDAY service at CareNet – we will have several groups split between our thrift store (DIY projects and revamping the layout of the store) and our administrative office and food distribution center to help facilitate our first ever weekend food distribution. We are blessed to have the support of Discover Church as we beta test this opportunity to distribute food to members of our community who may have difficulties with visiting us during the week for normal operating hours. Last year we conducted a Client Needs Assessment Survey with support from MANNA FoodBank and WCU. The findings from that survey provided us with a lot of insight into who we serve, how we serve and what improvements could be made to further strengthen our programs/services offered. It is our hope that with the success of Sunday’s day of service with Discover Church we will have the experience necessary to further develop this opportunity and to approach area churches to help in our effort to serve our neighbors in need by providing food and nurturing hope!”

Men’s Teen Challenge of the Smokies is in the rebuilding process and is working to renovate the old camp to better accommodate potential clients. Discover Church plans to spend Sunday helping move that process along. “Teen Challenge is really about to do some incredible things for our town through their much needed 12-month-long addiction recovery program,” said Windle. “They’ve recently secured a lease on the beautiful former Camp Cullasaja property. We’ll be sending a team over to help prepare the property for their guests by painting and things like that.”

*IMG_5609Serving local organizations is just one way Discover Church plans to volunteer on Sunday. Members are also encouraged to consider taking “prayer walks” around their communities. “Prayer walks are all about ‘observational prayer,’” said Windle. “In other words, as we walk, we’ll be praying about what we see, really connecting with people and needs in our town, and asking that God will allow us to be part of meeting real needs in an ‘only-Jesus’ way. If we see a car on blocks, we’ll pray that God provides for that family. If we see a vacant storefront, we’ll pray that God will be preparing the way for the right business and business owner to love our town, and His favor to come with it. We’ll have people prayer-walking on Main Street and neighborhoods, their neighborhoods, all over Macon County. Our goal is to prepare the way for God to do something big.”

Discover Church is moving from its current location at Whistle Stop Mall across town to the former Reminisce Antique Mall. The church’s “I Love My Town” initiative was created after realizing that it would be a few weeks before they would be able to move into their new location after their last day at Whistle Stop. With a break in meeting spaces, church leadership looked at it as an opportunity to serve the community.

“Ultimately, Jesus says people will know we follow Him by our love for one another,” said Pastor Windle. “I Love My Town is not about making Discover Church famous or even Franklin famous, it’s about making Jesus famous.”

Discover Church purchased the old Reminisce Antique Mall, located at the intersection of Main St. and 23/441, below the Entegra Bank property.

“It’s 24,000 square feet of awesome,” said Pastor Windle. “The inside of that *IMG_5607building is now wildly different. We decided to do the renovations in two phases for both budget and time reasons. The first phase includes a nice open lobby for people to connect with each other and opportunities to love our town. We’ve developed an auditorium that’s wider than it is deep so that you can see the faces of the people you’re on this journey with and not just the backs of heads. We also have made a cool multi-purpose gathering space that will comfortably fit 50 people that we plan to offer to those in our community who just need a place to meet. Our church offices will be located here and we’ve made extra space to offer to licensed marriage, addiction, and depression counsellors, as well as life and finance coaches that are meeting real needs in our community.”

The second phase of the renovation process will be the kids’ ministry area.

“While we’ll open with a great kids’ space, our vision is to have a transcendent space that will truly inspire children and parents toward the adventure Christ calls them to,” said Windle. “Our hope is to have a fun adventure-themed environment with slides, rock walls, fake camp fires, and maybe a dude in a bear costume. We have a 4,500 sq.ft. space and 3,500 sq.ft. space we’d like to lease out to businesses that can generate foot traffic in the plaza. We’d also be very interested in offering some of that space as a resource for non-profits in need of it.”

Discover Church plans to launch the new space on Easter Sunday, March 27, with three services at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m., and 11 a.m. For more information on the Breakfast to Go event, contact Pickartz at 828.342.2831.