Sunday dinner for 37 grannies: Cooking with Concord

The bacon-wrapped chicken is making me hungry. And I’m definitely stealing the recipe for cornbread salad.

Today I’m a guest in the kitchen at Concord United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Our mission is to cook a Sunday dinner for the 37 “grannies” who are served and loved by Wesley House Community Center.

Tanda Montgomery, the team leader, gets us right down to business. She’s got stations set up with recipes and the ingredients provided for each item on the menu. I make a mental note of the large-text, easy-to-follow recipes that make it easy for volunteers to jump right in. This is something I need to do for our meal ministry at Norwood United Methodist Church.

“Is everybody doing ok?” Jane Currin pops her head in to say hello. Jane is a busy mission director on most days, but today, she’s Superwoman. This is Concord’s “Mission Blitz” weekend, with 400 church members participating in some 20 projects impacting 123,000 people. We’re just one team working in one of the church’s three (three!) kitchens.

While Andrea and I work on a baby carrot side dish – roasted with butter, sugar and cinnamon – Judy and Julia work on the tantalizing chicken. Tanda is creating pans of gooey chocolate cake. Joe is progressing confidently through the cornbread salad recipe while telling me about his past years as a restaurant cook.

“I would rather cook for people that I know and can see,” Joe says. “If I had a restaurant, the kitchen would be located where I could talk to the people I’m cooking for.”

When he finishes with the cornbread salad, it looks great – and then Joe confesses he’s never had cornbread salad before. We each snag a clean spoon for a taste – and that is why I’ve got to share the recipe for Concord Cornbread Salad with you.

Our team goes on to finish preparing the rest of the meal, including mashed potatoes and rolls, before packaging up the food for delivery to the “grannies” at their homes tomorrow.

Jane later tells me that throughout the pandemic, over the entire past year, Concord has been delivering meals weekly to the homes of 37 senior citizens served by Wesley House’s WISE ministry. WISE stands for Wellness in Senior Education. Now that COVID-19 vaccinations are more widespread, Wesley House is resuming its Friday lunch-and-bingo gatherings. They are in need of church groups in the Knoxville area who will provide lunch and bingo prizes for the ladies. (Call Sharon Earl at 865.524.5494 or email for more info.)

Wesley House Community Center’s WISE program serves senior citizens of inner-city Knoxville.

If you like to cook, maybe that’s the ministry opportunity your church group is looking for. Maybe that’s what Joe was talking about when he said he wants to “cook for people I know and can see.”  

I wish I could have seen the grannies’ faces when they tasted that bacon-wrapped chicken and cornbread salad.

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Be sure to see the recipe for Concord Cornbread Salad!

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