Churches offer Lenten breakfasts

The Columbia Interfaith Council is sponsoring the breakfasts.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:49 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beginning tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, more than a half-dozen local churches will take turns hosting breakfasts to promote Lenten themes and fellowship among different Christian denominations.

The Lenten breakfasts, sponsored by the Columbia Interfaith Council, begin tomorrow at First Baptist Church, 1112 E. Broadway. The breakfasts start at 7 a.m. each Wednesday through April 4.

Organizers hope this year’s series will reverse a trend of dwindling attendance at the breakfasts. Otto Steinhaus, a former president of the Columbia Interfaith Council and retired United Methodist minister, attributes the decline in interest to the lack of cooperative effort among local churches. For the attendance to grow, he said, the promotion for the breakfasts must start from within the individual churches.

“I have a strong feeling that we need to do things together. Cooperation is a focus and concern of mine,” Steinhaus said. “And these breakfasts are a good way to promote cooperation.”

Still, the annual breakfasts, which started among downtown Columbia

churches and have since spread to other churches, attract about 100 people. However, many other churches are involved. Liz Schmidt, a member of the Columbia Interfaith Council, said about 20 churches are represented at each breakfast.

Participating churches, which have rotated during the 20-year history of the breakfasts, are responsible for planning and executing the events. The pastor of the host church selects Scripture to be read at the breakfast and prepares a sermon to encapsulate the Lenten lessons to be learned.

“There is no prescribed format for the breakfasts,” Steinhaus said. “It is just about sharing weekly thought and prayers among different Christian denominations.”

Those who attend are asked to donate $1 to cover the cost of the continental breakfast and are encouraged to bring donations of nonperishable food. Any money left over from the breakfast, along with the nonperishable food, will be donated to the Central Missouri Food Bank.

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