FRANKTON – Five-thirty on a Monday evening, and the basement at Frankton First United Methodist Church is gently abuzz with sound and motion and tempting smells. A crew of about 10 people deftly sets about the business of preparing dinner for 36 people about to show up for the Lions Club biweekly dinner. This is the Faithful Servers doing what they do best – cooking up a storm.
Upstairs, three big grills are fired up.
“We would put the tenderloin up against anything in the state,” said Mike Shuter, clad in an apron festooned with bright yellow corn cobs.
Downstairs, Lisa Osheshki and her kitchen crew are ready to dress those tenderloins with an irresistible compound butter, and accompany them with green beans, twice baked potatoes, salad and a dessert of rainbow sherbet with blackberries.
“It’s all volunteers,” said organizer Wayne Ousley. “We look at serving people as part of a mission.”
Since there are no employees to pay, Ousley said the Faithful Servers catering service is very competitively priced. Like the Lions dinner, some events take place right at the church or other indoor venues, but the Faithful Servers also take their show on the road for events like company picnics and the county fair. They cook up everything from pork loin roasts to steaks to hamburgers, along with all the sides.
The Faithful Servers even offer an annual Prom Dinner, an upscale affair designed to provide the formal environment without the backbreaking price tag for prom-going teens. Servers wear white shirts and bow ties to serve tempting entrees to young people doing things up for the big night. Price tag is just $10 per prom dinner.
“It’s grown every year,” said Osheski, who picked up her exceptional culinary skills out of necessity while serving on a fire department in California. “If you can’t cook, they kick you out,” she points out. Osheski’s hoping next year to expand the prom option to Elwood kids.
Although the Faithful Servers only adopted a name for themselves about four years ago, the business of feeding others in the community has a long tradition at the church.
Pastor Gary Elsten takes a simple view of it, pointing to Scripture in the book of John. ““Feed my sheep.’ We take that literally,” said Elsten.
With all that culinary expertise, a huge heart for the community and bold vision, the church purchased a former tool and die factory across the street. They are currently finishing up remodeling the space to be used as a community center.
“We wanted a place for the youth to attend and have a place to go in the community,” said Ousley. “This building is for kids. This building is for the community.” It’s an impressive undertaking for a church that draws about 100 people into services on Sunday in the small community.
“We feel like we’re doing what God’s calling us to do in Frankton,” said Elsten. “We’re calling it The Factory – it’s nothing like a church.”
The 12,000- square-foot facility is being renovated under the leadership of contractor Bill Fredericks. Drywalling, plumbing, wiring, ductwork are rapidly transforming the space. Cost of the renovations is in the neighborhood of $550,000. The building was picked up for a mere $150,000. The new facility will accommodate up to 300 people.
“We’ll have a much larger kitchen,” said Ousley. In fact, he said the new kitchen will be about 3.5 times the size of the current facilities. All kinds of equipment has been donated, some of it from Red Gold and Ball Memorial Hospital, including a 10-burner range, a giant fridge, tables and chairs, a pizza oven, soup vat and more.
“We hope to have a place for young people to go after ball games,” said Ousley. “We hope we use that pizza oven a lot.”
If you want to sample the Faithful Servers’ work, circle the calendar for their next popular tenderloin steak dinner slated for June 15. That day, from 4 to 7:30 p.m. p.m., just see if you can resist the tenderloin steak and fixings, plus dessert.
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If you go: What: Faithful Servers tenderloin dinner When: Saturday, June 15, 4 to 7:30 p.m. Where: Frankton First United Methodist Church, at the corner of Eighth and Sigler, Frankton Cost: $9, for people over 65, cost is $8 More info: wwwfranktonfirstumc.org