Recently Read: Finding Community With Bread Church – Local parish comes together around baking


Pastor Cynthia Kepler-Karrer PHOTO BY JOHN ANDERSON

by Melanie Haupt,

Memorial United Methodist Church is an unassuming house of worship on Berkman Drive in Northeast Austin. The grounds are immaculately groomed, and an LED sign alerts drivers to watch out for children and informs the neighborhood that Bread Church meets on the third Thursday of each month (this month meets July 28).

The image accompanying the notice is of a slice of bread composed of four different types ranging from a deep, dark rye to a tan multigrain to a Wonder Bread white. While that graphic isn’t necessarily a metaphor for Bread Church, it could be interpreted as one of its effects: that of unity despite differences.

Pastor Cynthia Kepler-Karrer greets me with a broad smile and a plastic container teeming with tiny salted caramel cupcakes, each one lovingly piped with an artful swirl of frosting. As we decamp to the parlor, she explains that they are left over from an event the previous night.

“We used to get cakes, but we’d always have so much left over, and no one wants half a sheet cake. So I started baking mini cupcakes because if there are leftovers, it’s really easy to share them or take them down to the fire station.”

Kepler-Karrer’s ministry is, if not defined by food, very much shaped by it. The motto for Memorial UMC is, after all, “Feeding Northeast Austin, body, mind, and spirit, in the name of Jesus,” and bread plays a starring role.

For the congregation, which is small but thriving, bread isn’t just a thoughtful, nourishing token from their pastor: It’s a call to action. For a sermon over Jesus’ feeding of the multitude, a miracle in which he fed a throng of 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, Kepler-Karrer made 200 mini loaves of honey challah and challenged the congregation to take home two loaves: one to keep and one to give away, and bring back their stories of what happened when they gave their loaves away.

“Some people gave them to people flying their signs on the street corners, others gave them to random people waiting at the bus stop,” laughs the pastor. “That had mixed results. I was walking my dog later that night and found a couple of bags with the bread still in it, which I understand.”

But other people, including Kepler-Karrer herself, used those loaves to meet their neighbors for the first time, a crucial first step toward engendering a strong community in Windsor Park, an old, continuously gentrifying, yet still diverse neighborhood.

This focus on strengthening the community around the church and beyond seeded the idea for Bread Church, which has its roots in Liverpool with a Methodist congregation called Somewhere Else, which gathers a few times a week to bake bread together and distribute it to the homeless and hungry.

Read the rest on The Austin Chronicle.

Recently Read

Recently Read

Recently Read posts are stories the editors of The United Methodist Reporter have found interesting from other sites and wanted to share with our readers. The editors do not necessarily endorse the opinions shared in these stories, and referral here should not imply endorsement of that content.

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