Lockbourne church helps feed the community

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
The former St. Matthews Church in Lockbourne still serves the community as the host site for a monthly meal drive-through service provided by members of the Grove City Bethel Lutheran Church.

During the Ohio and Erie Canal era of the 1800s, the number of saloons in the village of Lockbourne outnumbered the number of churches, but soon the trend reversed itself with some homes of worship still occupying their place in the community of today.

At the intersection of Vause Street and Commerce Street sits a stately brick building with stained glass windows, once home to a small-town parish comprised mainly of people of German background that started around the same time as the canal system.
It is the former home of St. Matthews Evangelical Lutheran Church.

According to the Franklin County Auditor’s website, 1920 data indicates a $5,000 building at the 99 Commerce St. location, with the current 7,708 square-foot structure built in 1948. At one time it was a two-point parish with First English Lutheran Church in Ashville.

Around 1960, it became a stand-alone parish.

“By the early 2000s, the membership started declining,” said church representative Gail Morgan. “The Southern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 2014 asked Bethel (Lutheran Church of Grove City) to partner with St. Matthews to help it continue as a viable parish. St. Matthews became the second campus of Bethel Lutheran.”

In 2018, Bethel established a free store at St. Matthews that was open once month to the community at large. During the pandemic, Bethel started providing meals at St. Matthew on May 9, 2020, a practice that continues today, albeit on a monthly basis.

Membership continued to decline, and worship services were eventually discontinued in Lockbourne. Covenant Believers Community Church began renting the space for worship.

In 2022, Bethel decided to sell the building to Covenant Believers because of the high cost in maintaining the older building and a desire to sell it to another Christian church.

“With no active worshipers and offering a free store once a week and a community dinner once a month, it did not seem like good stewardship,” said Morgan.

However, St. Matthews continues to serve the community as the site of a monthly drive-through meal service.

People nearby and from as far away as Orient line up the second Saturday of the month to pick up free sack lunches for themselves, family and neighbors from members of Bethel Lutheran Church, where the meals are prepared.

“In the beginning, we served around 45,” said Morgan. “After the pandemic, we continued the meal as carryout only. We are now serving an average of seventy meals each month in Lockbourne. We also give out a bag of groceries donated from members of Bethel and fresh produce from a partnership with Mid-Ohio Food Collective. We were serving a full meal at Lockbourne, but after the church was sold, while we were allowed to use the kitchen on that Saturday, we had to carry everything in and out that we were using.”

Church members sign up to provide the ingredients for the meal and approximately five people assemble the sack lunches. Two people pick up produce from Mid-Ohio Food Collective.

Volunteers help distribute the meals, hand out Save the Date cards for the next meal, and sign in people for produce.

“On average, there are fifteen to twenty people involved in the monthly meal,” said Morgan.

There are no requirements to receive a meal, bag of groceries and produce. In Lockbourne, the meal is on the second Saturday of the month from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. At Bethel in Grove City, it is the third Saturday of the month from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Distribution is first come, first served.

“We have come close to running out several times, but participants always get a bag of groceries or something,” said Morgan. “When we began our feeding ministries, our goal was not only to provide a good meal to those experiencing food insecurity, but also to provide an opportunity for fellowship of our participants. For our members, it is a way interact and to extend God’s love to those in our community.”

Previous articleCW Schools to close for total eclipse; also Facility Master Plan news
Next articleA royal time at HTHS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.