Soup. It’s easy to prepare and serve. It feeds a crowd and fills your belly. Those simple qualities, combined with the desire to promote connection and hospitality within her Blockhouse Bay Baptist Church family, led Erin Capps to host monthly Stone Soup nights.

Many people may know ‘Stone Soup’ as the folktale in which hungry strangers travelling through a foreign area convince the local villagers to each share a small amount of their food to contribute to a larger soup that eventually everyone enjoys together. The moral of the story is that if each person shares a small bit, the whole group can benefit. Though the guests to our Blockhouse Bay Stone Soup nights don’t need to contribute any ingredients for their meal, they each do bring along their story, their concerns, their presence. And through sharing that, the whole group does benefit. 

This is the second year that we have hosted Stone Soup. The number of guests is limited to what can fit around our dining table so that everyone can eat together as a family. For us that means eight to 10 adults and unlimited kids.

Rather than looking over the congregation and choosing who to invite for a specific night, we put out an invitation to the whole church and hope that people who desire to connect with others—or who just want a free meal—will sign up using a link to a Google form.

Besides the first two meals, our table has been filled with guests—those new to church and those who have been there from birth, those well connected and those still looking for a place to belong. 

At times I almost feel silly explaining Stone Soup like there is something amazing about an event that is really so simple. Our definition of Stone Soup: let people know you are making soup. Let those who want to join in, come.

Yet, at the end of the evening when my husband and I are loading the soup bowls into the dishwasher and putting away the extra chairs, I always feel encouraged. The night brought connections between people despite differences in age and culture. Stories were shared, giftings revealed, tears may have been shed, and always there were laughs—all while bumping elbows and spooning soup to our mouths. So simple, yet community was built. And who benefits? We all do. 

Story: Erin Capps

Erin Capps is a pastor’s wife and mother of four. An American by birth, she says she has been fortunate to find family among many people and places.