Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Louisville Presbyterian Mission Agency Congregation Welcomes the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery Family for June 11

By meerna Jun18,2024
Louisville Presbyterian Mission Agency Congregation Welcomes the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery Family for June 11

Shawnee Presbyterian Church resumes its Café Ginkgo service on Saturday with a community luncheon celebration

by Emily Enders Odom, Communication Mission | Especially for the Presbyterian News Service

Carrie Klinge is served by Brenda Stoney during Saturday’s celebration of the reopening of Café Gingko at Shawnee Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Shawnee member Bill Hardy is at the door, and Brenda Rodgers also served at the ceremony. (Photos: Emily Enders Odom)

LOUISVILLE – History is important to Dianne White.

It’s the same with her Presbyterian family.

That’s why White and most of the dedicated volunteers at Shawnee Presbyterian Church took on what others might have considered impossible – hosting a June luncheon for the entire sanctuary while the church was undergoing a major kitchen renovation.

“We can do this,” White said.

White, a retired guidance counselor for Jefferson County Public Schools and a ruling elder at Shawnee, one of the four historic African-American Presbytery congregations of Central Kentucky, has long advocated for greater church involvement in the neighborhood community.

“We need to be a source of information seven days a week, not just one hour a week,” White said. “We have to be open to the public at all times.”

Café Gingko, named after the hardy ginkgo tree that grows outside the church doors, got off to a promising start in August 2019.

Inspired by Central Presbyterian Church’s community lunch program, where White volunteered for nearly 10 years, Café Gingko began as a free dinner on Monday evening, primarily for single mothers and children in the Shawnee neighborhood struggling with food insecurity.

Less than a year later, Shawnee had to close the cafe due to insufficient funds when the pandemic hit.

But the 30-member church has not been deterred from becoming the church White and his members have long dreamed of being in and for their community.

When Shawnee had the opportunity to apply for the Birthday Offering Grant, one of two offerings from Presbyterian Women (PW) that funds up to five projects each year ranging from $75,000 to $150,000 each, White saw it as a chance to resurrect Café Gingko.

However, when it came time to sign and submit the grant application, Shawnee was too small to even have a PW moderator who could provide the required signature.

From left, representing Central Presbyterian Church: Delia Barr, Carrie Klinge, Lee Beckhusen, Rev. Dr. Ann Deibert and Martha Kenney.

“Because several congregations in the parsonage had adopted us,” White said, “Carol Noffsinger, moderator of PW Central Presbyterian, signed off on our application and wrote a letter of recommendation for a grant for PW’s birthday offering.”

On September 20, 2023, when Shawnee was informed that the church had received $150,000 as one of the recipients of PW’s 2024 Birthday Offer, the kitchen renovation project — along with much-needed improvements to the church’s parish hall — began in earnest.

The idea of ​​holding a June 16 ceremony first emerged during the March meeting of the Shawnee Administrative Commission, which was created in May 2023 by the rectory that had original jurisdiction over Shawnee at the church’s own request. It was there that the general priest, Fr. Dr. John L. Odom introduced the idea of ​​organizing a “pop-up parsonage event” on June 15.

Juneteenth, which became a federal holiday in 2021, has its origins in Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger’s announcement of the abolition of slavery in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The holiday, celebrated every year on June 19, commemorates the final announcement of the abolition of slavery in the United States.

“The next time I saw John (Odom) at the committee meeting, I asked him, ‘Were you serious when you said we were going to have a June 11 luncheon?’” White said, “but then I knew we could do it. We may not have a full-time pastor, but all churches should function this way. We are lucky that we all get along well and work well together.”

White immediately enlisted the help of not only dedicated church volunteers, but also a team of accomplished chefs, as everything at Café Gingko is made from scratch.

Thanks to a professional flyer designed by volunteer graphic designer Julia Youngblood, Shawnee’s Juneteenth celebration was heavily promoted during the parsonage’s May 18 bus tour of Louisville’s racial history. The event was sponsored by Mid-Kentucky Presbytery and “Beloved Community,” a so-called partnership between Shawnee and Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church that was formed more than a decade ago to help address the East-West divide in Louisville. Each of the presbytery’s four African-American congregations is affiliated with a predominantly white church, and each seeks to develop and deepen its relationships.

During a recent “sold out” trip in which area Presbyterians learned about local African American history and ended with a shared meal in Shawnee, churches across the presbytery have already begun marking their calendars for the return of June 15 for Juneteenth observances.

Members of Shawnee Presbyterian Church are, from left, Brenda Rodgers, Brenda Stoney and Dianne White.

It’s a date that coincidentally coincided with the Kentucky Pride festival in Louisville.

“When we were on a bus tour and had lunch in Shawnee, they invited us to come back on June 15,” said Central member Carrie Klinge. “I talked to our pastor, Ann (Deibert), about having an announcement in our newsletter for people to come out and celebrate on June 11 right after our Central group took part in the Louisville Pride Parade.”

In total, over 70 people took part in the June lunch.

“Our parsonage showed up and showed up,” White said. “Every table was full. It was like a presbytery meeting. Or a meeting. It really was a blessing.”

By meerna

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