I used to sing professionally at this church. I was there when the church burned, but the Soup Kitchen didn't miss a beat - they served their clients the very next day despite the disaster. They have continued that tradition for so many years, and I have watched many clients enter hungry and downtrodden, and leave with a smile and a full stomach. And now the added services they offer are inspirig. I read works from the writers workshop with pleasure. I have moved on to another church, and another state, but have continued to admired their work. A few years ago, I brought my youth choir to sing for the guests and we had a great time. Father Bill, the founder, always said the church never really wanted to be in the soup kitchen business, but the reality of the city proved otherwise. He and the staff have faithfully carried out a mission that they wish they didn't have to do.
It is an amazing thing when a community can occasionally live its vision authentically. This transformed church building--to be a welcoming place for all--shows what a transformed community can do: they knew that hospitality for the weekday feeding program meant more than keeping the customary look of a church for the Sunday spiritual meal the parish community continues to share at the Eucharist. The space, like the sharing of communion, is about being transformed for the sake of others.
I moved into the Chelsea neighborhood about 10 years ago -- just two blocks north of the soup kitchen. Everyday the lines would form with the old, young, infirm, healthy, black, white, latino, men and women. It was sometimes hard to see them all. But as the great recession hit in 2009, all of a sudden I thought that I, too, might one day need to join them. It's an amazing service the soup kitchen provides to all, with a friendly, dedicated group of volunteers and staff. The neighborhood is a better place -- it has a heart and soul -- thanks to the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.
This soup kitchen feeds the hungry day in day out year after year--feeds them body and soul, including drumming circles and a writing workshop. It is a place where those who happen to need a square meal are treated with respect for their dignity and with authentic compassion.
It was with great honor and humility that I served on the vestry and board of directors of Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen! What a great ministry this is to those in need in the City of New York. I have seen first hand the impact this has on so many people, on a daily basis! There are thousands of people who would have not eaten a full meal without the apostolate, vision, and commitment of the Church of the Holy Apostles!
In the interest of full disclosure, I coordinated the volunteer program at Holy Apostles for five years in the mid-90's, but I still talk about my time there as one of the richest, most challenging, most hope-giving times of my life. Holy Apostles manages to feed a daunting number of people every day in a place of beauty and real hospitality. The volunteers were some of the best people I've ever encountered, the staff hard-working and dedicated, and the guests taught me about hope in the midst of hopelessness nearly every day. Whenever I encounter someone going to New York City, I always, always recommend that they visit--or, even better, volunteer at--Holy Apostles. It's one of the best examples of beauty, hospitality, and justice that I know.