Castlemilk serves up Christmas community meal

Rev Sarah Brown cooking
Rev Sarah Brown and neighbouring café owner Thomas Rowntree preparing Castlemilk's community Christmas meal.

Castlemilk Parish Church is supporting a community Christmas dinner this Sunday thanks to a partnership with a neighbouring cafe. Castlemilk's minister, Rev Sarah Brown, had felt the Christmas meal was a step too far for the congregation after their eventful year, which has included moving in to a new church building. Here she explains how the Christmas partnership came about.

"For the past few years Castlemilk Parish Church has had the vision of running community meals and hosting one on Christmas Day. This year in August we started the twice monthly community meals, as minister, I felt it was too much to ask members to commit their time on Christmas Day given how hard they have worked during the year. We've moved into a brand new church building, dealt with the many extras that have occurred due to the move, as well as starting new things to fit in with our new space.

But where there is vision, the people shall not perish, and it was neighbouring cafe owner, Thomas Rowntree, who came forward with a complementary idea and asked if he could run a Community Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day, as his own premises will be closed over the holidays.

The idea was warmly met by community organisations and businesses and there have been donations from housing associations, schools as well as generous individuals. One former Castlemilk resident, Ryan Davidson, hosted a magic night “One Hour” at The Croft - donating his time and talents to raise £450, along with the Croft donating the premises and a buffet for the occasion.

For me, it’s been overwhelming to see the community response. People have been coming forward from all kinds of places to give what they have and offer their time on Christmas Day to provide transport and help to serve the meals or wash up.

We just hope that it will be significant for those that come, that it will change their Christmas Day from being stressful or lonely, into one where we can see our community spirit is alive and well in Castlemilk. Every day we see the increasing pressures that austerity has brought to the doors of vulnerable families and individuals. We see people struggling to heat their homes or feed themselves all through the year and finding their benefits sanctioned. At Christmas many support services are closed and other respite services rightly take their holidays. This leaves some people with no safe place to go at christmas time.

So we hope we will match people who will be glad of sharing our meal with those who will enjoy sharing their company with their neighbours. I know some people are happy to make time for their families on another day or bring their families with them to enjoy the event. I feel our community meal is not an act of charity in the sense of the benevolent sharing with the needy. It is the good that comes out of everybody bringing themselves and together making something special that everyone feels part of. It’s the with-us-God Emmanuel, truly incarnate in the hearts and minds of all that will be part of our special Christmas day.”