Jim and Betsey Seeley desire to bring Farmington closer together by allowing neighbors to share a meal around a table.
That sounds simple. The couple founded The Table, a ministry that serves a free monthly community meal year-round in Farmington.
The public is welcome to share in the meal on the first Sunday of the month. People also are welcome to take free items from the blessing tables.
As a pastor, Jim said he likes to live the verse in the Bible from Peter that states: "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithful administering God's grace in its various forms."
The Seeleys said they also want to bring the community and neighbors together to build bonds and friendships.
"We want to serve and bring hope to the Farmington community by providing a free hot meal and fulfilling needs where possible," Jim said.
Serving homeless populations for more than 10 years, the two have been working to make a difference in the Twin Cities beyond the community of Farmington where they make a home with their children. The Table is a little different.
"If people are not part of the church, they may feel a stigma against them or they may feel judged to join," he added.
His full-time job work with apartment communities in the Twin Cities' Section 8 housing exposed him too much poverty.
"I saw the needs and no one was reaching in and we thought why not come to a place like The Table and not be judged," Jim said.
In particular, many seniors in town attend.
Betsey shows photographs on her laptop of the outdoor picnic-style meal served during the summer at the Depot Way Arts Park.
The ministry is an offshoot of their congregation, The River church in Apple Valley.
Recalling a documentary they saw at church, Jim said, "We are talking about reclaiming the table and we are talking about study of how 1 in 6 people makes choices between paying electric bills or just putting food on the table for the kids and sometimes the mom or dad do not always eat a meal, and the kids won't know anything about it."
He added, "You have no idea about needs in own community, and we know where the needs are and we want to serve those who are at the poverty rate and are one paycheck from being in a shelter."
Betsey said there more than 1,000 homeless in Dakota County and there is not enough affordable housing in Minnesota.
Jim added, "We love to serve those who are homeless or less fortunate, but we also want to love and deliver blessings to those who are lonely and who are sitting on their couches and are wanting to give back."
The Table volunteers welcomes all to attend and share in a monthly community meal this winter to learn about their neighbors and grow closer to their own community.
"Our hope is that by doing this, we can build a sense of togetherness in our community, and that we can start to slow down and see the needs right in our own back yards," he said.
Jim added, "And through this, we can teach our children to lift someone up when they need it rather than just walk on by."
If you go ...
What: The Table – a ministry that provides a hot meal and fulfills needs when possible
When: 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, 1 p.m. Feb. 4 and 1 p.m. March 4.
Where: Farmington VFW, 421 Third St.