Savannah churches feed community on Christmas morning


By Kara Witherow, Editor

This Christmas, Savannah’s oldest and newest congregations will join forces to feed hundreds of hungry residents a warm, hearty breakfast.

In its sixth year, this tradition will get a new spin for 2016 as Trinity United Methodist Church – more than 200 years old – and ConneXion Church – birthed this year – band together. 

Trinity UMC first hosted this breakfast in 2011 after member Joseph Smith came up with the idea as a way to give back to the community that has given so much to him.

“I felt that I somehow needed to share my success with others,” said Smith, a local contractor who fully funded the breakfast for several years through his company, J.I. Smith Construction, LLC. 

The congregation was quick to commit to the ministry, and more than 75 volunteers will show up early Christmas morning to serve, fellowship, and clean. A chef will cook the meal in Trinity UMC’s kitchen and some of the food will be transported to ConneXion Church for their breakfast.

“Trinity has a deep heart and spirit for social justice,” said Rev. Ben Gosden, Trinity UMC’s senior pastor, explaining the congregation’s love for and commitment to the community. Like Smith, church members want to make a tangible difference in others’ lives.

Downtown Savannah has a large population of homeless residents, but this isn’t just a meal for those who are homeless. All are invited and welcome at Trinity UMC’s Christmas morning “Breakfast with those who are in need.” 

The term “with” is very important, Rev. Gosden said.

“To do something with someone means you join hand in hand and share breakfast with them. To do something for someone has a handout connotation. It’s a time of serving breakfast, but it’s also a time of sharing, talking, and getting to know each other.”

From 7 to 10 a.m. at both Trinity UMC and ConneXion Church, several hundred Savannah residents and church members will enjoy a breakfast of eggs, grits, sausage, biscuits, orange juice, coffee, and a to-go sausage biscuit. Guests at both locations will receive a gift bag full of necessities, including a supermarket gift card.

While only six miles separates the two churches, the neighborhood that surrounds ConneXion Church is quite different than that of downtown Trinity UMC. Many of the guests who attend ConneXion Church’s Christmas morning breakfast live in residential facilities and have developmental or intellectual disabilities.

“This is an opportunity to fulfill and live out the true purpose of Christmas by serving and helping others” said Rev. Michael Culbreth, pastor of ConneXion Church. “What better way to celebrate Christmas.”

The ConneXion Church congregation sees the breakfast as a great way to connect with the community and share the love of Christ with those in their midst. Following breakfast, guests will be invited to attend the church’s Christmas Day worship service.

“This helps us fulfill our vision and mission for ministry,” said Rev. Culbreth. “We’re not a new church just to be a new church, we’re a new church to really engage in mission in our community, and this is one way to do that.”

Trinity UMC won’t host a traditional Christmas Day worship service, but Rev. Gosden is instead encouraging people to worship by serving. 

“Our service will be our worship and our worship will be our service,” he said. “We’re going to worship by being the hands and feet of Christ.”

The church will host two Christmas Eve services, one on Dec. 23 and one on Dec. 24, and Rev. Gosden is asking members and volunteers to arrive at the church early Christmas morning and follow Jesus’ example of service. 

“It’s more fun to give than receive,” Smith said of the breakfast. “It’s a very heartwarming experience to be able to share with others.”