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Our Story

"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The founding of RCS with Pastor Robert Johnson describing Sister Angela Mary Parker. Video courtesy of St. Paul Church and Bob Mackowski with Open Aperture Photography ( 

The concept of a soup kitchen is certainly not an original idea to New Bern, North Carolina. In fact, it was the result of several successful soup kitchens in other eastern North Carolina cities, and throughout the country, that stirred the interest to pursue such an endeavor in New Bern. What began in 1982 as a pot of soup in the back of Sister Angela Mary Parker’s station wagon, has evolved into Religious Community Service’s (RCS) Community Kitchen in New Bern, North Carolina. By definition, a soup kitchen is a program designed to provide a free meal to any person in need of such. The volunteers and food are all to be provided through community effort. The recipients of this service receive the meal with no strings attached.

The New Bern soup kitchen came as an outgrowth of discussion at Christ Episcopal Church, where upon Dr. William Hunt, and Sister Angela Mary Parker, called for a meeting of interested persons in the earlier summer of 1983. The meeting was held and attended by approximately 30 interested parishioners. The parishioners heard Harold Bassett discuss his involvement in the soup kitchen in Kingston, and the outreach ministry provided by Saint Mary's Episcopal Church.

This meeting was enough to show that there was an interest in pursuing whether such a program was feasible for New Bern. Doctor Hunt, as a vestry member at Christ Episcopal Church, organized a steering committee consisting of John Poland, Chairman Helen Rawls, Kenneth Chance, Terry Brubaker , and Larry Chewning. The purpose of this committee was to determine the need for such a program in New Bern, and to communicate that need through the proper channels for it to become a reality. 



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The first order of business of the committee was to visit existing soup kitchens throughout eastern North Carolina, and gather certain information regarding the number of people being served and whether a need was being met. The trips were headed by miss Ellen Rawls and compiled into a notebook. It was determined early that this program should become the effort of all the churches in New Bern and not just the Episcopal Church. Therefore, the compiled data was taken and presented to Religious Community Services. It it was decided in the original meeting with RCS where the "how" and the "why" of a soup kitchen could be discussed with representatives from the member churches of RCS. 


The representatives of the different churches who attended these informational meetings were to go back to their respective churches and communicate what they had learned about the concept of a soup kitchen. The momentum and interest in the program was beginning to heighten, and when the vote came up at a regular meeting of RCS- the project received unanimous approval. 


Once approval was reached, all faucets of organization began. A committee was formed by RCS with Burton Whiteside as its chairman. At the same time, it became known that sister Angela Mary Parker would be leaving her position as a fifth grade teacher of Saint Pauls Catholic school- she would be available to work as a full time Director of the soup kitchen. Her appointment as Director received unanimous approval of the RCS board. RCS began at Ebenezer Presbyterian Church on Bern Street on Nov 5, 1984. On August 19, 1985 we were able to open our new and first stand alone building.

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A First Years Report


History At A Glance

" Through the inspiration of Reverend Joe Larrimore, we now say grace with our guests before meals "

" We are grateful to all who have made it a success"

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