The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

December 26, 2012

Filled with holiday cheer

Everybody like family at church in Conneaut

CONNEAUT —  A long line of festively dressed servers greeted visitors with a smile and a meal Tuesday afternoon as New Leaf United Methodist Church opened its doors to anyone who needed a meal — or fellowship.

The church’s fellowship hall was packed with tables and holiday decorations as people lined up to grab a meal and some dessert. The invitation was open to anyone; not just for those unable to afford a meal.

“We are the hands and the feet of Christ. Jesus gave and gave and gave to the poor, needy and hurting so ‘who are we not to follow his example?’” asked Jan Walsh, who serves as one of the pastors at the church.

Walsh said the church also provided Christmas stockings for any children attending the event.

“I was going to Cleveland to visit my family but the weather is supposed to be bad,” said Conneaut resident Patrick Donofrio  of his decision to attend the dinner.

“People, food and Christmas,” Bob Ryder, also of Conneaut, said of his reason for attending. He said the dinner was a chance to “mingle a little bit.”

The church began the Christmas dinner several years ago when three churches joined to form New Leaf United Methodist Church.

Debbie Rzeszutek said she and her husband decided to volunteer for the first time because they are empty nesters. “Our daughter lives in Texas so we have nothing to do,” she said.

Dave Jones, who has a long history of serving meals on the holidays in the Conneaut area, said this was his first time cooking for a Christmas dinner.

He said things started slow Tuesday, about 50 people in the first 30 minutes, but that wasn’t all bad. “That’s kind of nice because (that means) people have a place to go,” he said.

“An empty chair (at the church) means somebody has a place to be,” Jones said.

The church has a dinner open to the public every Friday evening throughout the y ear. “This kind of takes the place of our Friday dinner (this week),” Jones said.

Bob Shackle said he decided to help serve Christmas dinner to others because his family follows a different schedule for getting together. “Our family usually gets together the Saturday before (Christmas) so we are usually alone (on Christmas),” he said.

Text Only
Local News
Ashtabula County Alive
July 4 Celebrations 2014
Summer off to Big Start
Ashtabula County Flag Day 2014
Northeast Ohio Soap Box Derby 2014
Tour de State Line and Boating Season
Ashtabula County Memorial Day 2014
Sam Magill Sr. Memorial
Armed Forces Echo Taps 2014
Lakeside Loop Color Run
Keeping Ashtabula County Clean and Healthy
Canoe Race and Ashtabula Easter Events
The Taping of the Teacher: A sticky Sitation
18th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Geneva State Park
House Ads
AP Video
NDN Video
Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA