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St. John’s Hardwick Bread Baking Ministry Feeds Body and Soul

St. John’s Hardwick Bread Baking Ministry Feeds Body and Soul

By Maurice L. Harris | Diocesan Communications Minister

A seed planted at the 2016 Diocesan Convention is yielding a bountiful harvest in Hardwick, Vermont, thanks to members and friends of St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church. Together with the United Church of Hardwick and the Hardwick Area Food Pantry, they are sharing the staff of life—for body and soul—with those who hunger. The staple of their weekly luncheons: Artisan loaves lovingly made by St. John’s Bread Baking Ministry.

St. John’s and partners are sharing the staff of life—for body and soul—with those who hunger.

Member Durrelle Whitmore explains that when she was a delegate at the 2016 Diocesan Convention, Bishop Ely spoke on the importance of local mission. Whitmore took that message back to Hardwick where she began volunteering at the community luncheon.

“I noticed that much of the food was donated by local farmers,” she said. “But they never seemed to get bread.”

Although St. John’s had only a “modest” kitchen, the Rev. John Perry (rector) and vestry made the space available for a small-scale baking ministry that could be performed by youth under Whitmore’s guidance.

“By ‘modest’ I mean we knew the kitchen needed an upgrade,” Perry said with a smile. “But that was a minimal investment in the larger scheme.”

It was also a well-timed investment. The Hardwick Area Food Pantry, which is housed in a portion of the St. John’s building had no kitchen of its own. Since the launch of the St. John’s ministry, Food Pantry participants have joined the baking sessions to learn a valuable life skill. For the past several months, volunteers have produced between six and eight loaves weekly.

Food Pantry participants have joined the baking sessions to learn a valuable life skill.

The product, by all accounts, is delicious. This comes  as no surprise when Whitmore reveals her secret ingredient. The recipe includes a rare sourdough starter gifted from Peter Schumann, founder of Vermont’s famed Bread & Puppet Theatre.

The luncheon unifies a wide range of people from throughout the community, says Whitmore, including residents of Heartbeet—a lifesharing community for adults with disabilities—that assist in preparing the weekly meals.

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