Bread Baking For Those In Need: Students gather together to bake bread with President Ronald Matthews during Inauguration week at Eastern.

      Eastern University invited students to celebrate Inauguration week by baking bread alongside one another and President, Ronald Matthews. There were two sessions available for students, with one being open to faculty members.

      The volunteers were walked through the process of baking a simple French bread – first combine honey, yeast, salt and warm water before stirring together and letting sit. Then, fold flour into the mixture, knead, shape into a loaf and let rise. The simple process was simplistic enough for anybody to follow along, whether they had baking experience or not, but also engaged everybody who  attended.

      Attendees were able to enjoy one another’s company while they created their masterpieces. They littered the conversation with jokes and laughter as they commented on the bread, their own and their neighbor’s.

      The activity was led by Efram Harkins, the Assistant Director of Conferences and Special Events at Eastern. The Eastern website says that the activity was inspired by Matthew 25:45, “Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’” This verse coincides with the theme of Inauguration week, transformational love. In keeping with that theme, students were provided with multiple opportunities to serve the community. There were bread baking sessions available to students, which were followed by a “Day of Service and Beyond” on Saturday, March 23. The bread that was baked was distributed both to the YACHT club and Cityteam’s Hope Cafe, in Chester, PA. Cityteam is a service learning partner with Eastern University that works to combat hunger in the area.

      If students missed their opportunity to bake bread with President Matthews, there are still plenty of ways to continue to serve and show transformational love. One option would be to volunteer in the YACHT club on campus, which also works with the homeless. Club members pool their leftover meal swipes every week to collect food from the Dining Commons, before assembling bagged meals. Then, the club goes into the city of Philadelphia to distribute the meals. This gives them the opportunity to serve the “least of these” in practical ways, as well as establishing a relationship with them.

      Students can also help others by serving in other ways. There are a host of organizations and ministries off-campus, such as Whosoever Gospel. This organization works to provide the homeless population of Philadelphia with all the necessary resources they need to be successful. The Whosever Gospel ministry website says that they “seek to offer the love of Jesus and the hope of the Gospel in both word and deed to those who are hurting.”

     Service is an integral feature of Eastern’s ideology as it perfectly intersects with both the faith and justice component named in our motto. Serving others in tangible, beneficial ways is one of the greatest ways we can work to better our world, and the opportunity to do so as a community is an excellent symbol of servanthood.

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