Church's prayer for dryer to help feed needy tumbles to happy ending
- Essentials Café, a pay-as-you-can community establishment on Third Street in South Bethlehem, was gifted a new clothes dryer by Star of Bethlehem Lutheran Church
- The café is the latest ministry of West Side Moravian Church in Bethlehem
- The café is slated for a soft opening in early November
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — The prayer was answered not by a bolt of lightning crackling across an ominous sky or by startling claps of thunder.
It was answered with a late-night, two-sentence text:
“Hey, friend, you’re still in need of a dryer? Star of Bethlehem is happy to get that for you.”
See, Pastor Tammie Rinker was praying for a clothes dryer. Not for herself, mind you, but for her West Side Moravian Church’s latest ministry: Essentials Café.
The completely remodeled café is slated for a soft opening in early November.
Located at 418 W. Third St., Bethlehem, it will be a pay-as-you-can community gathering place where all are welcome to sit with neighbors and eat breakfast and/or lunch, regardless of their ability to pay.
"Everybody who comes, regardless of whether or not they can afford a meal, will be treated the same — with food and kindness.”Pastor Tammie Rinker of West Side Moravian Church
The dryer would be used for laundered tablecloths, hand towels, aprons and such.
“We stuck on this idea that people want to be part of a community that is beneficial to everyone,” Rinker said. “We want to provide people with healthy, fresh food.
“Those who can afford a meal will be encouraged to also purchase a meal for those who cannot. There’s enough food insecurity here.
"Everybody who comes, regardless of whether or not they can afford a meal, will be treated the same — with food and kindness.”
The heat is on
As for the dryer, it's not as though Rinker didn’t have something to trade.
The café had a dryer that worked just fine. But as the establishment was being renovated over the past few months, it was necessary to move the washer and dryer to the basement to make room for a three-bay sink.
“Everyone was on board to help the café.”Pastor Jenny Heavner of Star of Bethlehem Lutheran Church
The washer fit through the basement door just fine.
The dryer was an inch or so too wide, even after the basement door and handrail were removed.
So Rinker put out the word on social media and by word of mouth: She would trade her perfectly good dryer for one that was just a bit smaller.
Coworkers were alerted. So, too, were volunteers.
But the prayer for a dryer was coming up, well, dry.
And then arrived the text from heaven.
Actually, from Heavner.
“I had a late meeting at church on Oct. 2,” said Pastor Jenny Heavner of Star of Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
“I was scrolling through Facebook and saw the post on their café site that they needed a dryer. So I texted Tammie to say we could help.
“I texted our treasurer and members of our outreach team to tell them the café needed a dryer. I told them we have the funds to afford to buy it for them. Everyone was on board to help the café.”
The dryer, at a cost of $711, was delivered to the café Wednesday.
Awash in need
The cost is minimal given the chance to help address a segment of food insecurity in the Lehigh and Northampton counties.
About 11% of people in those counties, or nearly 73,000, are without consistent access to healthy, affordable meals, according to the Lehigh Valley Sustainability Network.
"I trust there’s a lot more of that generosity that is untapped.”Pastor Tammie Rinker of West Side Moravian Church
“At Star of Bethlehem, our culture is that we exist for the sake of our neighbors,” Heavner said. “We’ve worked with West Side Moravian Church in the past, so we’re happy and proud of the café for helping our neighbors.
"We know about their work and want to be partners in this ministry.”
The café will serve breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Twenty-four visitors will be allowed in the café at one time.
“If we do two sittings for breakfast and two for lunch, we can serve about 100 people a day,” Rinker said. “As word travels and more people learn about the café, I anticipate we will get more people to the café.
“We are so grateful to the Star of Bethlehem for this dryer. I trust there’s a lot more of that generosity that is untapped.”
Food for thought.