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York: Christian students ministry invites 100+ to 'last minute banquet'

Late last year students, volunteers and local business together pulled off a last minute banquet to bless over 100 local residents and visitors to York city centre ...

Late last year students, volunteers and local business together pulled off a last minute banquet to bless over 100 local residents and visitors to York city centre.

The initiative was masterminded by Luke Smith of Christian student mission organisation Fusion who challenged the York Fusion team (Miriam Swaffield and Pippa Elmes) to throw a banquet for anyone who would come in under 12 hours. 

Inspired by the parable of the feast in Luke 14, the two set to work and gathered 32 volunteers to throw a three-course meal in the local church hall that night, raising an extra £600 for charity in the process.

Hazel Creaghan, a student at the University of York, was on hand all day: “I loved people's early morning reactions, even those who couldn't physically help sent lots of encouragement and promised to pray for us and we certainly felt it! The team evolved into a family where ‘what can I do to help?’ was the hot phrase of the evening.

“Seeing people take natural roles such as the welcomers or the food servers or the tidying up crew was astonishing – no-one complained and no-one grumbled (classic Philippians 4:12)!” 

Dave Mason had only been in York a month when the banquet happened. “I’m a fresher and it was amazing to see so many others from a church community I’d only recently joined mucking in at the drop of a hat, and to see the generosity of so many people in York.

“Even my non-Christian friends from my halls at university came and started serving food and drink to the homeless! It was an absolute pleasure to serve the community in such a positive way.”

Over 100 guests enjoyed the meal to the sound of a live jazz trio. All the food was donated by local shops or funded by donations. Pippa Elmes described the evening as “humbling and overwhelming. So many people dropped everything and gave. We have welcomed in the homeless, the lonely, local shop staff and their families and strangers who came in after shopping in town. 

“It’s been a brilliant chance to serve our local community, challenge ourselves and others into generosity and to talk about Jesus. Amazing conversations were had, we’re still in touch with some of our guests and we’re now hearing of others doing the same from across the UK!”

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