Stone Soup Compassion Trinity program receives honors
Deacon Elizabeth Miller, coordinator, Trinity Soup Kitchen, Trinity Episcopal Church, Bethlehem, is the recipient of the 2018 Wallenberg Honors from the Institute for Jewish and Christian Understanding of Muhlenberg College, Allentown.
“The honor belongs to so many people,” Miller said in accepting the award at the annual Wallenberg tribute dinner attended by 100 people Oct. 14 in Seegers Union, Muhlenberg College.
Miller was honored as “a local figure who embodies the courageous moral action exemplified by Wallenberg.”
Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat in Budapest, Hungary, who defied Adolf Eichmann and the Nazi-collaborating Hungarian government in the final days of World War II. Wallenberg is credited with saving as many as 100,000 Jews from deportation to Nazi death camps.
Miller said the Trinity Soup Kitchen, which has provided a mid-day meal since 1982, serves “the hungry, poor, unemployed, mentally-ill, homeless, marginalized, addicted and lonely.”
The program gives free meals to an estimated 150 persons daily, five days a week, 51 weeks per year.
“We close for Musikfest,” Miller said. “People would come in there because they had no tickets.”
She said the Trinity program is “an example of consistent love and compassion.”
Miller began her work at Trinity in 1991. She was ordained in 2003.
Marcie Lightwood, social worker, Trinity Soup Kitchen, and schools program coordinator, Institute for Jewish and Christian Understanding of Muhlenberg College, and Peter A. Pettit, Director, Institute for Jewish and Christian Understanding of Muhlenberg College, presented the award at the dinner.
Table centerpieces were large Campell’s soup cans topped by a container of legumes and stones to symbolize the legend of the stone soup, where each person contributes an ingredient.
Lightwood lauded the Trinity program where, she said, “stone soup is an everyday occurrence.”
Approximately 100 volunteers help with the luncheon program.
“It began with the downtown church ladies,” Miller said. “When the mill closed down and they’d cook up soup and put it in the back of a station wagon.
“It became this thing that I hope we can spread it around. And just from the conversations in the room tonight, I think we can,” Miller said.
“The work is life-saving and life-serving. The reward is for those who volunteer,” said Miller.
Among its outreach programs, Trinity operates a food bank for pets and provides supplies to children.
“These people need so much more than food,” Miller said.
“How do we help them maintain their dignity?” she asked of those served by the Trinity program.
Dr. Reggie Williams, associate professor, Christian Ethics, McCormick Seminary, Chicago, presented the 34th annual Raoul Wallenberg Tribute Lecture, presented by the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding of Muhlenberg College, also Oct. 14, in Miller Forum, Moyer Hall, Muhlenberg College.
Williams spoke about “What Harlem’s Humanity Taught Dietrich Bonhoeffer about Hitler’s Antisemitism.”
A reception preceeding the dinner was sponsored by Trinity Episcopal Church, Bethlehem.
Rabbi Seth Phillips, Congregation Keneseth Israel, Allentown, presented the blessing prior to the dinner.
Pettit updated dinner attendees about Institute for Jewish and Christian Understanding programs.
The Jeanette Eichenwald Interfaith Award was presented to Alexandra Senal, Muhlenberg College, Class of 2018.
The Rev. Dr. Pamela Payne, Trinity Espiscopal Church, Bethlehem, presented the closing blessing.