Photo Credit: TED News

Trans-Europe

The Soup Run Still Running After 37 Years of Ministry

Pat Walton continues her passion and mission to serve the less fortunate in greater London

St. Albans UK | David Neal, with June Coombs

It was in 1985 when the then Stanborough Park, Watford, United Kingdom, youth decided that being a spectator in church life was not enough. Motivated by a Spirit-led prompting to become participants through making their Christian faith practical, they launched what became known as the “Soup Run”’ by the end of the year. Jonathan Barrett, their pastor, discovered a need in central London: homeless people and rough sleepers. With his can-do mindset and support from then youth leader Pat Walton, with a couple teens of her own, the Soup Run was launched.

That was 1985. If you are reading this article in December 2023, getting close to 38 years later, there will still be a Soup Run from Watford to London tonight! A ministry of the Stanborough Park Church, the Soup Run runs without funding other than voluntary contributions, surviving as it does on with goodwill and many volunteers. While the Soup Run means a lot to Pat as coordinator, the weekly run is still very much run by the youth of the church. At the regular central London location, food, soup, drinks, and supplies to meet basic needs, as well as clothing, are provided, where a regular clientele wait for the arrival of the minibus each week.

The current challenge is to retire the faithful old minibus, which needs replacing because it has an old diesel engine no longer regarded as environmentally friendly. The result is that for every trip into Central London, a £12.50 (approx. US$15.85) fee is incurred. With each trip operating on a financial shoestring, it is a cost the team can ill afford, so the time has arrived to replace it and purchase an eco-friendly model.

In November 2023, David Neal, Communication director for the Trans-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists, had an opportunity to catch up with Pat, still full of energy and brimming with enthusiasm and compassion to support those hungry and with nowhere to sleep. David was glad to hear the backstory of the Soup Run’s why and how. It was stirring to be reminded of the commitment to extend love to those society regards as the least.

Good Conversation with Pat Walton was produced by tedNEWS in collaboration with Sam Davies of BUC News, filmed and edited by Kofi Osei-Owusu of the BUC Media Centre. Thanks to the Stanborough Park Church for permission to film on location.

Reference in the interview is made to local Soup Run participants:

The late Les Dean was a Stanborough Park member who had a great ability to connect and “listen” to those the Soup Run served.

Katrina Walker is an elder of the nearby Hemel Hempstead church.

The original version of this story was posted on the Trans-European Division website.

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