Woman behind church dinners offers own kind of ministry

Published 10:03 am Friday, August 30, 2013

Cooking a Sunday-style dinner for a family party can be a challenge for even the most experienced cook. Now multiply that by at least a factor of 20 and you have what the autumn season is like for Linda Holschuh.

The formal title for Holschuh is chair for the hospitality committee of First Baptist Church of Ironton, where she and her husband, Gary, have worshipped for the past 13 years.

What that translates to is Holschuh cooks and coordinates the Friday lunches and dinners the church offers to the public during the months of September and October to the community.

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The number of those meals can range from 200 to 300 at a time.

“I love it. Holschuh said. I guess it’s I don’t teach Sunday school. It is something I can give to the church.”

Joining her in the church kitchen on Fridays is a small army of volunteers, all with the same mission of providing hospitality to the community. The funds raised from the lunches and dinners go toward paying off the Faith and Fitness community center the church built five years ago. The center is used for a variety of ministries the church offers including an after-school program for students.

“We are trying to get that paid for and keep it up and running,” Holschuh said. “I think (the center) does a lot of good. Our Wednesday night kids basketball league is there and a lot of different leagues.”

Preparing meals in the hundreds is a matter of organization and planning.

“I go the first of the week to order my meat,” she said. “Then I do something every day until the dinner. Like I will make the dressing or roll the silverware for those eating in.”

Today’s menu is baked steak, which Holschuh cooks overnight in a number of crock pots.

This morning she showed up at the church at 7 a.m. to turn the ovens on. The other volunteers came at 9 to set up for the lunch that runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the dinner from 4 to 6 p.m. Then through the day they make up orders and serve customers.

“Linda and Gary are invaluable to the church,” Eric Barnes, First Baptist pastor, said. “They spend countless hours, not only for the church dinners but for all of our outreach like the after-school for kids. They do all the food. This building is where hundreds of kids can have an outlet. These dinners may be seen as just a fundraiser when people are buying these dinners. But it is helping pay for a building that provides a ministry that offers programs of morals and recreation.”