North Delta’s Crossroads United Church cooks up a Christmas Eve feast

On Dec. 24, volunteers will be cooking up a Christmas Eve feast as part of the congregation's free monthly community dinners.

Volunteers prepare meals for Crossroads United Church’s monthly community dinner.

The kitchen at Crossroads United Church is a flurry of activity as about a dozen volunteers portion out the salad, drain the pasta and fill cups of juice.

In the adjoining room, long communal tables are being set up as hungry patrons trickle in, greeting each other warmly as gregarious chatter fills the space.

Outside it’s a torrentially rainy evening. The downpour and umbrella-flipping wind makes the scene inside all the more cozy, its fogged-up windows offering a warm refuge from the West Coast elements.

And this Christmas Eve, the crew at Crossroads is doing it all again as part of its free monthly community dinner service.

When the Reporter visited Crossroads last month, volunteer dinner coordinator and head chef Jason Hodgins, who works as a teacher by day, was busy in the kitchen, stirring sauce and placing racks of Swedish meatballs in the oven. Though he doesn’t have any formal training, Hodgins does have a lot of experience cooking for large groups of people.

“I have a large family!”

Hodgins said they rotate through about 14 meals, learning tips and tricks along the way, and serve somewhere between 130 to 140 people each meal, including volunteers.

“Personally, it’s important to me to do something in the community,” he said. “We started this five years ago with a group of people saying, ‘This church needs to be more relevant to the community around it.’ There are people who have real needs and people were very energized by the idea of doing something tangible.”

He said the dining room is organized to be as welcoming as possible.

“When people come in, they’re not just coming to be fed, they’re coming to eat and they’re coming to share a meal.”

Rev. Cari Copeman-Haynes said the community dinners – which launched in January 2012 – are a vital part of what the church wanted to do as a renewed presence in North Delta following the re-purposing of the building in 2011 and completion of its community kitchen.

The free monthly dinners are held on the fourth Saturday of each month and are open to all who could benefit from a hot meal and good company.

“It’s been not only responding to Jesus’ command to serve the hungry and feed the folks who need that, but also in response to a sense of loneliness and isolation that exists in urban and suburban community,” she said. “So [it’s] not just a healthy, delicious, nutritious dinner, but community around the table and welcome and acceptance for people as they are.”

She said many who come to have a meal feel isolated, including seniors and single parents, so to make them feel welcome the meals are served right to the guests instead of via a soup-line format.

“It’s just that much more respectful and really has a lovely family atmosphere.”

Copeman-Haynes said church members are also encouraged to attend and host a table, and that there has been fantastic support from the wider community, including the North Delta Rotary Club and the Delta Scottsdale Lions. The Lions sponsor two dinners a year, including the November meal.

“We’re trying to keep a lot of our work local,” said Lions member Sue Joys, who helped out at the dinner alongside other club members.

Eighty-two-year-old kitchen volunteer George Garrett has lent his time at the dinners, and in other church functions, for the last few years after first visiting the church with his wife in 2009.

“It’s the spirit of Christ, and it’s the spirit that’s instilled in these people. They are dedicated to the community,” he said. “Everybody pitches in and it’s a good feeling.”

He said a lot of effort is put into planning and preparing the menu for what he describes as gourmet meals.

“This is something special for them. They get a good meal [and] we try to make them feel as welcome as we can.”

A retired journalist, Garrett said the experience is also rewarding for him as a volunteer.

“Each time I learn something new,” he said. “I’ve met many friends here.”

This month’s community dinner will take place on Dec. 24 at 5 p.m., with doors opening at 4:30 p.m. There will also be Christmas Eve church services at 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Copeman-Haynes admitted it will be a busy evening.

“It’ll be an adventure!”

Just Posted

Man shot dead in Cloverdale ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Paul Bennett was ‘a champion for the sport,’ team manager says

BREAKING: Fire destroys Chilliwack restaurant

Popular Banners Restaurant goes up in flames Sunday morning.

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally

North Delta crime beat: week of June 12

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

Man shot dead in Clayton area of Surrey, witnesses sought by police

It happened in the 18200-block of 67A Avenue

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

Mudslide 15 km north of Lillooet reduces highway 99 to one lane

Commercial truck legal load reduced by half between Fountain Valley Road and Pavilion-Clinton Road

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

VIDEO: Plane crashes in Langley farm field (updated)

Plane lost power shortly after takeoff, RCMP told

B.C. teacher ends Jeopardy! winning streak, taking home US$69,000

Ali Hasan, from New Westminster, has been gaining fans as a “one-man invasion,” says Alex Trebek

1 man in critical condition after ‘serious’ stabbing in Downtown Eastside: police

Vancouver police say there was an altercation and stabbing appears targeted

Jett Woo highlights 5 Canucks choices on Day 2 of NHL entry draft

WHL star out of Moose Jaw tabbed in Round 2

Most Read