by Dawn Moore, Souderton congregation
There’s been a shortage of yeast across the USA during this pandemic. Like some people hoarded toilet paper, bakers bought up this key ingredient. Without yeast on hand, I called my friend, Tyler Kratz, to ask for a bit of his sourdough starter. Tyler gladly handed over the blob, but was quite cryptic about what I should do. “Feed it” in a few hours, he said, and then asked if I owned a kitchen scale. Huh?
The naturally-occuring yeast in sourdough starter eats ordinary flour like nobody’s business, yielding exponential growth that demands immediate baking. It’s as ravenous as it is limitless. Tyler gave me that first blob eight weeks ago. I have yet to master the art of sourdough baking, but have done well enough. I’ve also given away bits of starter, with the same cryptic questions: Do you have a kitchen scale? Do you understand how to feed this blob?
Life as a whole felt quite cryptic when Montgomery County, PA abruptly went under stay-at-home orders on March 13. We at Souderton Mennonite Church had no idea what was ahead. Two things seemed certain: the crisis was just beginning and needs in our community could grow exponentially. Our response must be effective and sustainable for the long haul. We needed to learn how to “feed” our community of needs with little preparation or expertise.
A brainstorming group was formed under the direction of Pastor Jenifer Eriksen-Morales. Any idea for extending “Jesus Love” was fair game. Immediately, some purchased and delivered food to families in need. We also donated funds and assisted in packing food for families with our friends at Emmanuel Lutheran and Zion Mennonite. Meanwhile a thoughtful church member organized online tutoring to help frazzled parents who were now educating children at home.
A “Little Free Pantry” was born under our carport, allowing neighbors to anonymously “give what you can and take what you need.” This place of Jesus Love is used daily, often hourly, as neighbors tangibly care for one another. One recipient recently shared, “I prayed on my way here that I would find baby supplies. I’m so glad they are stocked as I didn’t know what I would do. Thank you!”
As I learned how to care for and share my sourdough starter, our congregation also shared their ingredients of love, compassion, desire, and care with our broader community. We have been amazed at the way our starters have multiplied, creating more than we ever imagined.
We also saw a need in caring for frontline workers, such as the ER doctor who has lived in a hotel to protect his family from COVID-19, the hospice nurse who lovingly accompanies patients in their final holy moments without beloved family members, or the high school student who delivers food trays to residents in a local care facility, offering a kind word to these isolated seniors. How might we show appreciation for their sacrifices? The idea we settled on, Pay-it-Forward Frontline, has the added advantage of supporting our local economy.
Pay-It-Forward Frontline invites you to donate funds in any amount to local restaurants to be used as “thank you meals” for frontline workers. SMC has seeded four Souderton/Telford area establishments, with the hope that others will join locally and in other communities.
I’ve learned to keep my sourdough in the fridge for longer stretches, bringing it to life only when time allows. What would happen if we allowed the sourdough of Jesus Love to grow unhindered, sharing it lavishly, and growing it exponentially in our communities and beyond?