In the heart of Charleston, on the busy, historical Meeting Street, a unique culinary event unfolded, hosted by none other than historic St Michael’s Church. The Food Truck Fête, held on a sunny Wednesday evening, was a party with a purpose for the friends and neighbors of St. Michael’s.
The congregation of St Michael’s invited their friends and families to an event featuring four exceptional food vendors, each offering a distinct palette of flavors, ensuring that there was something to tantalize everyone’s taste buds. The tantalizing scent of slow- cooked barbecue, another chef turning out sliders packed with big flavor and still another offering shrimp po’boys made for a culinary paradise.
But it wasn’t just about food or fellowship. The Rev. Greg Smith and his Evangelism Task Force proposed this event at the suggestion of the Rev. Tim Surratt who said we need, “one thing to invite people back for after Easter.” The Vestry, with the help of the Rev. Randy Shirley, backed the project and we got to work.
The idea was to have a series of Porch Parties to which we could invite people with no other agenda than to have fun. No preaching, church music, nothing but the people and their clergy hanging out and having great food and great conversations. While St. Michael’s has a decades-long track record of evangelistic efforts and great results from Alpha – we’ve found it harder and harder for seekers to make their way into the Church.. Transfer growth is happening, but seekers find it hard to make Sunday or even Alpha their first taste of Christianity.
So, we decided to just have a series of parties with an agenda of “fun”. This was the first and we’ll follow it up with Noise in the Narthex (an afternoon mini-concert for people to enjoy from the street) and Jazz in the Churchyard (an October event for adults to mingle and enjoy music). Each event is designed with the singular purpose of letting our congregation invite friends to a quality event that is designed to introduce them to the idea of a church that likes to bless the neighborhood. Then, if they have a good time, it’s easier to invite them to another church event like Alpha.
And, here’s the best part – the cost for this event was about $300 for permits. The vendors charged for their food and were delighted to have so many customers.
Was it successful? It’s a long term investment, but as the sun set on Meeting Street, the sounds of laughter and lingering conversations filled the air. As one satisfied participant noted, “What we’ve savored here today isn’t just about the diverse food or fun activities – I can tell this church loves its neighbors”
And, to top it off, we ended the night with King of Pops, a gourmet popsicle stand serving up an array of refreshing treats to counterbalance the sultry Charleston heat. With intriguing flavors from tropical mango-chili to decadent chocolate-dipped sea salt caramel, each popsicle was a masterpiece that soothed and excited the palate in equal measure. These frosty delights proved to be the perfect sweet ending to the evening.
By the Rev. Greg Smith, St. Michael’s Church, Charleston