Meet Hope. She knows that small town and small church can mean big ministry.

You can be completely honest without feeling like you’re being judged. And I think it’s because everybody dares do it that it makes it genuine and safe.


On a typical winter, fall, spring day? About 30 to 32. We’re not wealthy.

Hope has been a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Candor, New York for 55 years. 

St. Mark’s is a small congregation in a small community. At last count, the population of the village of Candor was 851. 

Outreach at St. Mark’s is big. 

On Tuesday nights we provide soup–two soups–and chili and all the bread and desserts and stuff that go with it. We started it around, thinking, people who watch ball games in town, going home from work, you know, wouldn’t it be nice in the middle of the week if you didn’t have to cook? So we have these from 5 o’clock to 7 o’clock.

And every event we have is a donation only. And if you–nobody knows who donates and who doesn’t. So it’s available, we have takeouts, we deliver if we know of people who are shut-ins or just aren’t up to making it out. So we deliver to them, and no charge.

It’s a social event. It gets pretty loud! Because that’s Tuesday night, everybody comes, they have their tables. And you know, sometimes they don’t know when it’s time to go home. But it’s alright, it’s pretty joyful! Dim the lights, right, put out the cat!

But it can–in winter when it’s really bad, maybe only fifty. And other times seventy-five, eighty. So we make four gallons of chili, four gallons–eight gallons of soup. And the soups vary every week and so does the chili because different people make it each week.

I think our mission, St. Mark’s mission, is to live by example. And they, I hope they’re seeing what this kind of life can be and how we can support one another.

And the giving that the church does is really, particularly if it’s within the community… We don’t want anybody to feel that they’re beholden to us. You know, when you borrow money from somebody and then you have this… So that’s why we don’t want people to know where it came from. Because then they’d feel an obligation or beholden to, you know, us and it’s not us. It’s upstairs.

St. Mark’s prays. A lot. 

I think this group has always been a prayer group from long before I was here. I think that’s what makes us such a unique family. I mean you really feel like family but we can be honest with one another. And it’s not like you’re in a repentance thing where you have to get up and share your sins. Although that might be interesting!

But if you’ve got an issue in your life, whether it’s a joy or if it’s a concern or a heartache, you can share it here. And they will pray you through it. And they’re not hovering over you. But you know when they go home, when they say their prayers at night or when they wake up in the morning, that you’re probably, you’re that top of that list.

And you can be completely honest without feeling like you’re being judged. And I think it’s because everybody dares do it that it makes it… it’s genuine and safe.

St. Mark’s recently welcomed an eleven-year-old boy. He’s about to undergo experimental treatment for a rare form of cancer. He asked to be baptized. 

The whole congregation was aware of–the Candor congregation–was aware of what his journey was going to be. And to watch him… He was so excited. He’s eleven years old, so old enough to know.

And it was just like…welcome. Welcome, welcome.

And we’ll get you through it.

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