Over the years in Ottawa, a Friday dinner has been served for any in the community. It has not only changed locations, but it has also changed names and menus. But eventually, it has settled at a permanent site, Ottawa First Christian Church, under the name of “Friday Friendship Feast” (FFF).
How did they come up with the name you might ask? Because they serve their friends at this meal, it is on Friday and it truly is a feast for the soul. The food they offer is really secondary to the message of compassion, hope and respect. Everyone in the church, in some way, has been a part of this mission whether with money, time, baking or cooking skills or food items. The joint effort is something that speaks of how the church is supposed to function and this mission has acted as a catalyst to help join the community together.
There have been many different faces, yet so many of the same ones that come time after time. There’s the woman that just arrived in town after being displaced, and didn’t know where her next meal would come — until she saw the FFF signs.
Then there is the story of Ron. Ron stopped going to church in 1969 because no ministers in the town where he lived would do his dad’s funeral. He moved back to Ottawa in 2002. He started attending the FFF in the winter of 2013 with other neighbors from his apartment building. He started a conversation with Debbie who was helping to serve the meal. Ron talked to two other church members that March, about the church and they invited him to church.
After talking to pastor Craig Robertson about his situation with his father and how he was angry at the church, Robertson again invited him to see if FCC could help him feel God’s love and grace. After joining the church in 2013 and accepting the call to be an Elder in 2015, he is a volunteer for the FFF serving team. It is because of the outreach ministry of the FFF that Ron came back to church and is growing his faith and relationship with God.
There is a different story for every person that comes through the door. Many of the folks who come are on a fixed income or disability and their food dollars have run out by the time they arrive on the third Friday. And there are those who come for the companionship.
Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been some changes. It was decided to continue serving food for those in need, but only at the front doors. With no indoor dining at this time, the meals are prepared, packaged and handed out to those who drive up to the entryway.
Only two to three individuals prepare and serve, but there are still people contacting the staff to advise that they would like to help when able. The folks at FCC are happy to be able to continue this vital mission.