In May of 2014, Fairhope United Methodist partnered with Ransom Ministries to open a Ransom Cafe location in the heart of downtown Fairhope. People questioned the need for a Ransom location in such an affluent area—who would show up?
But Ransom Cafe’s mission has always been bigger than just feeding hungry stomachs. It was obvious the first few weeks of the Fairhope location’s existence God has something special planned. College students, grieving church members, widows and even a couple of homeless visitors began coming to the cafe regularly. They originally came for the food, but returned for the community.
“I wondered at the beginning if we were serving who God wanted us to serve,” says Mary Beth Gibson, who has volunteered at the cafe with her husband Robert since the beginning. “But I know we are. We always have several people in need, and we also have mid-pew America coming in to volunteer. I feel like we are on the right track.”
Over the past four years, leadership of the cafe has shifted from Ransom’s staff to the church’s key volunteers. Ransom Ministries’ vision of starting cafes and eventually turning them over to churches has been realized over and over again. Like several other locations before them, volunteers from Fairhope UMC have embraced their cafe ministry and made it their own.
The cafe in Fairhope is now appropriately called Community Cafe, and in addition to serving an average of 20-40 people every Friday in the cafe, volunteers deliver over 30 meals each week to sick or homebound members of the church. Leftover food is delivered to first responders.
Many of the same people who first visited the cafe four years ago still eat every week at Community Cafe. It’s become an important part of their lives and serves as a social and spiritual safe haven for many. “It’s been amazing to watch it change and watch the personality of the group evolve to include so many people from all walks of life,” Mary Beth says. “When you feed people, it’s about so much more than nutrition. It’s really all about love.”The staff at Ransom Ministries appreciates Fairhope United Methodist’s commitment to serving their community and sharing the gospel through food and relationships. Thank you to Jennifer Myrick, Robert and Mary Beth Gibson, George Nelson, Margaret Sorensen, George and Susan Hoad, and all of the other volunteers who make Community Cafe in Fairhope a thriving ministry.
Pictured above: George Nelson- Faithful Volunteer