Holy Grounds - A Treasured Tuesday Ritual

Audrey Splinter, St. John's, Mankato

Holy Grounds - A Treasured Tuesday Ritual

For over a year now my husband, Ray, and I have spent every Tuesday morning from 8 to 10:15 am at Holy Grounds. This ministry serves a hot breakfast to an average of 70-90 guests Monday through Saturday at Centenary United Methodist Church in Mankato. It was begun almost 10 years ago by one individual who wanted the church to get to know its neighbors. It started small, with just a pot of coffee and an invitation to stop by. St. John’s Episcopal became involved in this ministry about seven years ago when a couple members of the Vestry decided to join in a newly formed monthly meeting with others from the Mankato downtown churches. We wanted to see if we could better coordinate our services. It seemed people would sometimes go from church to church looking for food vouchers, gas cards, bus tokens, rental assistance, and so forth. Since Holy Grounds was already established, we agreed this could be our hub. All requests for assistance would be referred to Holy Grounds by the other downtown churches. Members of these congregations began volunteering their time at Holy Grounds a few mornings a week as resource connectors. Several members of St. John’s volunteered for this mission.

This was the beginning of getting to know those in need and those from other churches. Churches could combine their resources and give more efficient, effective assistance. I remember one morning a couple came in who had very little. They requested a couple of bus tokens to get to a job interview. They were also given some leads on low-income housing in the area. The next week they were happy to report landing a job and closing in on securing housing. It didn’t always go smoothly, but we felt helpful by just being there to listen and offer what we could. The monthly meeting of the downtown churches was also the birthplace of Connections Ministry Shelter, which is now in its seventh season. The shelter has grown tremendously over the years. But that’s a whole other story!

Of course, covid changed a lot! But in the covid years, to-go breakfasts were prepared and handed out the door. Naturally, numbers were down. Volunteers over 60 were asked to stay away for safety’s sake—that was a whole lot of us! When Ray and I got reinvolved in the program in the summer of 2022, we began helping in the kitchen to prepare food, set tables, serve food, and clean up. It was really good to see so many familiar faces that we’d not seen for a couple years, hear their stories, and know they were still around. We know many of the breakfast guests by name. Many guests are “regulars.” We know their preferences—“only peaches”, “no meat”, “two to-gos for my wife and son," “extra sausage,” “no oatmeal”, and so on. We often sit down and have breakfast with guests after the initial rush dies down.

Ray does the cooking on Tuesdays, cracking 150 eggs or whipping up a couple hundred blueberry pancakes. The food is always good, no matter who’s cooking! Gratitude and smiles are abundant. I think what makes it a special time for us is the welcoming atmosphere where everyone is accepted where they’re at. It’s a pleasant time of sharing food and conversation. More volunteers are always needed. The time commitment is not huge and the rewards are many. I think the Holy Grounds website says it best: “Holy Grounds has become an important resource in the community for relationship building, food security, and a place where all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Holy Grounds provides a tangible way for us to live out the gospel call to love our neighbors as ourselves.”