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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Baby food

When newborns arrive, so do the home-cooked meals from a caring congregation

Jim and Janet Hammond had recently joined Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Oak Park, Ill., when their son Peter was born three years ago. So it came as an unexpected welcome when parishioners brought home-cooked food in the weeks after his birth.


"It struck us as generous and personal," says Jim Hammond. A psychologist whose work demands long hours, Hammond says the gesture also helped. "I don't think we could have done it otherwise," he adds. "It was a godsend."

The mix of personal warmth and practical helpfulness explains why the program to deliver meals to every Good Shepherd family with a newborn has endured for years as a grass-roots ministry. "It's a big adjustment time to begin with," says Lisa Smith, a mother of two who coordinates the program. Families of newborns don't need the extra hassle of preparing dinners.

Like many of the 20 or so people on the list to cook dinners, Smith was deeply touched by the ministry when her daughter Sydney was born two years ago.

Cooking meals in a time of need is one way parishioners act as family to one another, especially for those who have no nearby relatives, says Jack Finney, who recently retired as Good Shepherd's pastor. "But it's not just the meals. It's an excuse to visit," Finney says.

Janet Hammond, whose parents live in Pennsylvania, agrees. Her family received meals again after her daughter Rebecca Faith was born last fall. "It's nice to see friends and have some fellowship and celebration right around the birth," she says, adding, "It feeds your soul as well as nourishing your body."


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