SYRACUSE – Heading west along state highway 50 from Jefferson City to Sedalia, drivers can see an emblem of how the First Baptist Church here has invested in its community. A sign along the right side of the highway declares, “First Baptist Church of Syracuse Welcomes You.”
Pastor Harold Nicks of FBC, Syracuse, loves the people and the history of this town of 200, which had its beginnings in 1859. He brags that the Syracuse School once produced one of the best basketball teams in the state. After the school closed down in 2003, he and his wife, Joanne, bought the building, and they now make it available for community events.
Nicks and the members of FBC, Syracuse, also have a passion for ministry.
“We have a ‘No Excuse Policy’ for ministry,” Nicks said “No matter how small the church, we still have an obligation to minister. It only takes one person.”
For that reason, throughout the summer, the church offers every member of the community a free, daily lunch outside of the Syracuse Gift Depot, a shop owned and managed by Nicks. The lunches are provided by the Open Door Ministries in Sedalia, which also provides free dinners for the Vacation Bible School put on by the church.
Nicks called the free, daily meals a “summer lunch program,” explaining that the church wants to help families whose children eat lunch at school throughout the remainder of the year.
“They just come eat and leave, no strings attached,” Nicks said.
“It works out real well, and a lot of people appreciate it,” Nicks said, adding that some parents drop their kids off for lunch and then run to a nearby store to buy groceries.
“I think it is great,” said Becky Johnston, the grown daughter of one of Syracuse’s former mayors, who was eating lunch with some nieces and other young family members. “A lot of kids love coming over here and stopping by for snacks. It helps out a lot too with the community.”