Community hosts free lunch for strangers to mingle

Community hosts free lunch for strangers to mingle

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A free lunch and a free opportunity for people from different backgrounds to get to know each other.

That is the message behind Welcome Table, a lunch every other week at Grace United Methodist Church in downtown Wilmington.

The Hope Center, a nonprofit, sponsors the event, and organizers said Thursday's lunch was a trial run. They said with more than 100 people eating lunch Thursday, they hope to make it a weekly event with local chefs cooking each week.

Dean Neff, the chef and co-owner of Pinpoint Restaurant, cooked Thursday.

"We have come to the understanding that the opposite of need is actually welcome," Philip Cryst, pastor of The Anchor Church and one of the organizers, said. "It's not that we need to fill everybody's need. It's that we need to be better as a city and welcoming those into our city,"

One attendee said he heard about the lunch through a flier at work, and thought it was a great concept.

"I think it's awesome. Bringing people together, different walks of life getting to know each other to share a meal, I think it's super special and definitely something that I'm excited to be a part of and I hope to continue to be a part of," Christian Black said.

"As community groups and as businesses and as nonprofits, we need to be better at welcome, and this is living that out," Cryst said. "It's welcoming those who are new to our city and maybe have been here for a really long time, so that we can sit down at the table and share a table of fellowship. There's not many times where complete strangers can sit down at a table with one another and get to know one another for the first time and so that's what this is creating."

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