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Brats for college seniors

More than 700 grilled brats were eaten by Bradley University seniors in a three-hour period and let’s not forget the chips and drinks that accompanied the brats cradled in hot dog buns.
Each spring, members of First United Methodist Church in Peoria, Illinois, watched as some 400 students walked by during their traditional Senior Walk. Some were part of a pub crawl, stopping at every bar and restaurant along the route. Among the walkers were students who had volunteered in the church’s Loaves and Fish Ministry while in college. The church wanted to extend hospitality and thanks to the young adults.

“We were thinking about how do we create safety and a safe space for them,” said theRev. Carrie Carnes, associate pastor of worship and congregational care. “So, we wantedto offer food and conversation.”
The Brats for Bradley Ministry to the seniors began eight years ago to thank the students who served in the Loaves and Fish program. Loaves and Fish is open to the community on Saturdays. Students are among the volunteers who feed more than 400 people, distribute goods from the food pantry and assist in a clothes give away.

Carnes said the idea of Loaves and Fish brewed almost 20 years ago when a nearby Catholic church had a fire and could not provide hot meals to those who were unhoused. They asked First
Church to help them, and the congregation agreed. “We have partnered with other churches, fraternities, sororities and many volunteers got involved,” said Carnes.

The Senior Walk will be May 12 this year. The church plans to get out the grill and provide brats again for thestudents.

At A GLANCE First United Methodist Church | 116 NE Perry Ave, Peoria, IL 61603 | 309-673-3641 | | | Directing pastor: Rev. Bob Phillips | Average Attendance: 787 | Illinois Great Rivers Conference