Morristown’s getting another soup kitchen, at Bethel A.M.E. Church

Bethel A.M.E. Church on Center Street--soon to be renamed Bishop Nazrey Way? Photo by Berit Ollestad
Bethel A.M.E. Church on Center Street--soon to be renamed Bishop Nazrey Way? Photo by Berit Ollestad
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It took a lot of community help to bail out Morristown’s Bethel A.M.E. Church after Tropical Storm Irene, which diverted the Whippany River into its basement in 2011.

A special thank you was in order, according to Pastor Sidney Williams Jr.

On Sept. 21, 2013, the church will dedicate Table of Hope, a soup kitchen that will serve the community on weeknights.

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” said Pastor Sidney.

The scene at Bethel AME Church in Morristown hours after Tropical Storm Irene. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The scene at Bethel AME Church in Morristown hours after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The Table of Hope will serve meals from 6 – 7:30 pm.  With the Community FoodBank of New Jersey as the primary food supplier, the soup kitchen should be capable of serving 250 people a week for less than $250, according to Pastor Sidney. That figure does not include staffing costs and utilities. Money will come from donations, the Pastor said.

“We are PUMPED!” he said via email.

The Table of Hope is meant to complement Morristown’s Community Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center, which has been serving lunches to the needy every day since 1984. Six lunches a week are served at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, while Saturday meals are provided at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church

Saturday’s 3:30 pm ceremony unveiling Bethel’s soup kitchen and its John and Helen Middleton Fellowship Hall will honor the “exceeding generosity” of people and organizations who helped the church recover after the storm ruined computers, kitchen appliances, rugs, carpeting, floor tiles, children’s back-to-school supplies, office equipment, an organ and a piano.

The church’s flood insurance had lapsed, the church has said, during the leadership transition after a prior pastor’s death. Cost estimates  for restoring the kitchen and hall exceeded $400,000, Pastor Sidney said.

Morristown firefighters pumped out the basement and local congregations gathered to perform a cleanup.

Scenes from cleanup, Sept. 3, 2011. Please see icon below for captions.

Nearly $100,000 in grants and donations came from the Presbyterian Church in Morristown and the D’ Brickshaw Ferguson Foundation, the Hyde and Watts Foundation and the Morris County Freeholders, who arranged a Community Development Block Grant. Normandy Real Estate Partners pitched in to complete the restoration.

“Realizing that we did not have enough money to complete construction, we decided to broaden our search for in-kind support and more importantly advice. We asked Normandy Real Estate Partners to give us guidance on how to best leverage the money we had raised and much to our surprise we received much more than advice!” said Pastor Sidney, who leads the first church in Morris County established by African Americans, a congregation that dates to 1843.

“We are especially grateful for the countless hours and resolve demonstrated by Normandy Real Estate Partners. No obstacle was too great and no detail was too small,” he said.

 

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