‘Church Lunch’ at Bexley United Methodist returns after pandemic hiatus

Volunteer Sharon Seckle serves senior Mitchell Cohen lunch Wednesday, Sept. 20. (Photo by Henry Elmore)

Bexley United Methodist Church has revived their affordable lunch buffet called “Church Lunch” for Bexley students after the 40-year-old program was halted by COVID-19.

Substitute teacher and church lunch volunteer Sharen Seckel said BUMC started this program as a mission to create a place for all Bexley students to eat lunch together outside of campus. 

Seckel explained that for the past 40 years, BUMC hosted a buffet-style lunch every Wednesday where the lunches cost $3 for an entree–which is a new dish every week–sides and a dessert. Seckel added that the first week of the program this year, they served pizza bagels as an entree.

“It’s a social mission for the Methodist church that everyone is accepted and included in a lunch get-together,” she said.

She explained church lunch stopped in 2020 because of COVID-19, which prevented them from being able to hold multiple people in one room due to safety reasons concerning the virus.

Substitute teacher and BUMC volunteer Craig Seckel explained the church lunches have made a return this year primarily because the safety concerns for COVID-19 have dwindled.

He added the pastor of BUMC, Rev. Colleen Ogle, agreed it was important to bring the program back to enrich student and adult connections at the lunches.

Craig Seckel said the church has plans to improve the lunches moving forward.

“Our goal is to continue the program and improve it while getting feedback from the students,” he said.

Sharen Seckel said church lunch is also a great opportunity for students who can’t afford to eat at Bexley restaurants but are still looking for somewhere to go during lunch other than school. They try to make the lunches very affordable, but they will not turn away someone who doesn’t have money, she added.

“I’ve been doing it since I retired 13 years ago, and it was a great way to stay connected with students,” she said. “It still is a great way for adults to stay connected and for kids to stay connected with each other in a place that’s not school or Main Street.”

Craig Seckel added the church lunches are accepting of everyone and their goal is not to convince people to join the church.

“By no means is it a place where we try to get people to join the church or anything like that, so everyone is welcome,” he said.

 Sharen Seckel explained the only reason the church would turn someone away would be due to their behavior.

“It’s always been important, and maybe more so now, that it’s always been a non-judgmental place,” Sharen Seckel said. “One can come in, and as long as you’re not being rude or inappropriate, you’re welcome here.”

Senior Chad Scott said he’s glad the program is back because of how convenient the church lunches are for him.

“It’s a great time and easy for me to walk down and eat cheap, good food for lunch,” Scott said.

Junior Alex Smith attended church lunch for the first time this school year and is excited it’s making a comeback, he explained.

“It’s a great idea,” Smith said. “I really enjoy it and I know a lot of people enjoy it. I hope more people start coming because it’s truly a great time.”

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Henry Elmore
Henry Elmore is a Junior at Bexley High School and a reporter for The Torch staff. Outside of The Torch, he indulges in a weekly sail across the high seas. He’s also on the golf team.