From Staff Reports
The pastor of a church in Cornersville and members of his flock are operating a restaurant on Lewisburg's public square.
The ministry's operation of the restaurant started a few days after Independence Day, Pastor Rick Stephens said Monday, "but we didn't officially take it over until Aug. 1."
Use of the building started several months earlier, but it wasn't to run a restaurant.
"We began in October when Robert Crane had the restaurant" known as '50s and Fiddles on Church Street, said Stephens.
He leads In Christ Fellowship in Cornersville and its Rock Outreach Ministries. Project 50s is the name of the latest ministry.
"We started to have Bible studies there" in the building Crane had been renting from the twin brothers in Selbyville who transformed the old furniture store into a restaurant with a music venue, Stephens said.
He was looking for an outreach for teenagers.
"We did it for years in Shelbyville," Stephens said.
"At Project 50s we're still in the process of getting all our fees paid and deposits and licenses and getting codes inspection," the pastor continued.
"We're going to rebuild the kitchen," Stephens said.
It's to be moved "to the right side of the building, in the game room area," he said. "We're going to put in a vent, and cook more and get the food out more quickly.
Now, the cooks use a hamburger cooker that's self-contained.
"There's no open flame," Stephens said. "The deep fryer is about a gallon and a quarter.
"We're doing our best to make it work," he said.
Nobody working at Project 50s is paid, he said. They're all volunteering their time and abilities. The pastor, his son and a deacon are the cooks. They serve on a rotating basis.
A dozen people have volunteered for the various jobs in the restaurant. The wait staff gets to keep tips.
"Part of it can be people getting experience so they can say they know what to do" when working at a restaurant, he said.
Then, there's the ministry aspect of Project 50s.
A man came in and acted like a customer, ordered a meal, but couldn't pay for it, so that became a lesson on theft for the man as instructed by the pastor who also made the man mop the floor and take out the trash.
Another man had nothing but $1, said so, and, as a result of his honesty, volunteers fed him, prayed, and considered his plight, Stephens said. Observers wept.
In Christ Fellowship Church is in the old Spencer's building across the street from the Cornersville City Hall. The Rock Outreach Ministries is classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) tax-free organization. It's chartered in Tennessee.
Another ministry conducted by the church is God's Lemonade Stand, an effort to help people get work by, among other things, preparing resumes.