Rev. Dr. Alix D. Pridgen, Lutheran Church of the Resurrection’s pastor, says about 50 people show up to eat the Miracle Breakfast each week, but she’d would like to see more. It gives her joy seeing families come in enjoying a fresh made breakfast as they start out their day. It brings smiles not only to her but to the people that stop in week after week.



BY JOE ARCE AND COREY CRABLE


In one of the greatest miracles recounted in the Bible, Jesus fed a crowd of 5,000 with only five loaves of bread and three fishes. One local church has been doing the same for nearly a decade – well, with waffles and scrambled eggs, that is.


This March, the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, located in Prairie Village, Ks., will mark the 10th year of its Saturday Miracle Breakfast, a weekly offering of free breakfast for anyone in need in the community. Each week, church volunteers line up to cook and dish out a variety of breakfast staples to anyone who shows up, including biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, coffee, scrambled eggs, sausage, and – on the first and third Saturdays of each month – waffles, the most popular item on the church’s menu. The entire breakfast is free and open to the public.


Right now, the Rev. Dr. Alix D. Pridgen, the church’s pastor, says about 50 people show up to eat each week, but she’d like to see more. “We’ve been doing this for nine years, which is remarkable,” Pridgen says. “We got all of this together after the economic recession in 2008. We started hearing stories about people needing assistance, people who were now struggling because they were out of jobs.”


That included Johnson County, a place with a reputation for affluence and wealth.


“No one was talking about that in Johnson County,” says Pridgen, adding that plenty of large, extravagant Johnson County homes are owned by residents in staggering debt who can barely afford mortgage payments. “Everyone assumes that everyone is rich there.”


Pridgen consulted colleagues at other area churches, as well as her congregation, to determine the logistics of bringing the idea of a free, regular, community wide breakfast to life.


“We asked God, ‘What do you want us to do?’” she recalls. “One day, I was reading through scripture and came across the story of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000. I thought, ‘Here’s something I need to pay attention to.”’


Pridgen says her congregants were enthusiastic about the idea – but how would it work?


“After the service, people said, ‘We have to do this meal!’” Pridgen says. “Others said, ‘This will bankrupt the congregation. There will be people lined up around the street.’”


So be it, Pridgen decided. She knew that God would provide.


“My experience has been, however many we needed to serve, somehow the resources are there,” Pridgen says.


And so, Pridgen and a group of volunteers set out to buy all of the supplies they needed at local grocery stores – the church doesn’t have a food pantry – and all told, costs for the event come to roughly $600 a month.


That expense is well worth it to see the faces of those who come by each week. The people who show up cross all boundaries. They’re Hispanic, they’re white, they’re black. They’re young and old, men and women. They’re wealthy and poor. They’re Kansans and Missourians. And over time, they’ve become like family to the volunteers who serve them.


“It is humbling,” Pridgen says of the power of the event to bring people together. “No one wants to go to a soup kitchen. No one wants to feel poor. We all want to feel like we are givers, not receivers. We didn’t want anyone to be excluded. We want to be a community and build friendships across cultures, socioeconomic levels, and languages.”


Rising food costs make it difficult for a family to go out to eat, and Pridgen says the church is happy to cook and serve a hearty, hot meal at no cost to anyone who needs it.


“It’s very expensive to go out and eat. It’s out of reach for a lot of people,” Pridgen observes. “I’ve had people tell me over the years that this is their restaurant.


As a young mother of three, Elizabeth Sosa knows how costly a weekend breakfast can get. She has been attending the Miracle Breakfast at the church for nearly three years and has high praise for the event and its organizers.


“The food is so delicious and the people are very nice,” Sosa says. “I feel very comfortable here, and I’m very grateful because you can have a warm breakfast every Saturday and I don’t have to cook. That’s good for me, because I have to be at work every Saturday morning.”


She calls the Miracle Breakfast “a blessing” as well.


“The first time I came, I didn’t know what to expect,” she says. “But when I saw the nice people, I felt like family here.”


Edwin Marin, 13, has attended the breakfast since he was 8 years old. He says he loves all of the food offered at the breakfast. And, luckily for his parents, he makes sure his family never misses a Saturday.


“Sometimes when they forget, I remind my parents and we come,” Edwin says.


The more the merrier, Pridgen says. She says she wants the event’s numbers to grow and encourages all to attend, feed their bellies, and make new friends in a non-judgmental environment where everyone is supported.


When Pridgen ulters those welcoming words, people like Juliana know it is coming from the heart. “It’s beautiful coming to breakfast. Juliana recalling when she first came to the Miracle Breakfast, “We didn’t have a place to live and we didn’t have any money to buy food. Now my children have become accustomed to coming to the breakfast as often as possible… it’s like having breaking with family.”


“What a blessing it is for us,” Pridgen says. “We don’t feel like we’re doing this for other people. We just feel blessed by the community. They’ve enriched our lives. On Saturday mornings, it’s an unlikely neighborhood, but to me, it’s the kingdom of God. … When they enter our doors, we’re all the same. We’re just people.”


The church’s Miracle Breakfast Ministry takes place from 9-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the church, 9100 Mission Road in Prairie Village. To donate money or for more information on the Miracle Breakfast, call (913) 649-0438 or visit www.lcrpv.org.