Church offers free breakfast once a month
Twenty-three years ago, James Cothren and other members of Centenary United Methodist Church set out to do one thing: offer people free food.
What began on March 27, 1993, was the church's monthly Neighborhood Breakfast, which occurs to this day on the fourth Saturday of each month, except of the month of December. Cothren said that first breakfast fed only 15 people.
"We had more volunteers than people," Cothren said. "And now we have built up to where we have an average of about 175-200 people."
The breakfast, according to Cothren, generally serves low-income and homeless families and individuals from the Lawton community. It's intended to be an outreach ministry, but Cothren said the church's goal isn't to preach to people, but to provide them with a warm meal and a morning of fellowship.
"We have people who have been coming quite a long time," Cothren said. "We have people that come and meet friends. It's kind of a little community that they have. They sit at a table, eat and visit. Then they get up and leave and somebody else comes in."
Cothren has led the breakfast since it began 23 years ago, and said people always start lining up outside the church's doors at 7:30 a.m. when the breakfast doesn't start for another hour and a half. The doors open at 8:30 a.m. and breakfast begins at 9 a.m. featuring scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, biscuits, sausage, gravy, fruit cocktail, cereal, pancakes, coffee, orange juice and milk for the cereal. Cothren said they try to cook everything as fresh as they can by using real eggs donated by local farmers and fresh pancake batter. Attendees are allowed to go through the line as many times as they would like, but they cannot take a plate to go.
"We have some people that go through the line two, three and we have a couple that come through four times," Cothren said.