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Chili draws Roberts residents to church on a chilly night

Around 50 people attended the first "Music and a Meal" event at the Roberts Congregational UCC on Jan. 20.

Around 50 people showed up for the first "Music and a Meal" event at the Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ on Jan. 20.

Attendees escaped the below freezing temperatures outside and warmed up with a meal of chili, salad, french bread, desserts and beverages. The "Carr Creek" duo sang gospel bluegrass music, entertaining the crowd as they ate.

Member Terry McKinley said the church received positive comments and "gratitude for the meal, praise for the wonderful music and excitement for the next event on Feb. 17."

McKinley said it was fun to see the youth excited and talking about doing something for the February program.

The below-freezing temperatures and strong winds, may have forced a few people to stay home and avoid the event, but McKinley said, "The crowd was pretty much as expected. We have heard from people who were unable to come and who will be joining us in the future. Word really hasn't spread yet.

In particular, we think the youth will help spread the word among their friends."

While McKinley says the church was happy with the turnout at the first meal, he has "no doubt it will grow."

He said the church has already heard from several people who are going to tell music teachers in voice and piano and ask them to send their students. The church has also discussed sharing musicians with other churches, he said.

"That's the kind of focus on the community we had hoped for," McKinley said.

McKinley said after the event many people commented about the strong sense of community at the event, even with a number of newcomers.

Two of the six musical acts scheduled for the event are not members of the church.

"We were especially pleased with this since one of our goals is to contribute to building the sense of community in our area," said McKinley.

Each month the meal will be different as the menu is decided by the families that will be serving it.

McKinley said the church is seeking feedback on the event and will adjust the event as needed.

He said the church tried to plan the meal times around a busy family's schedule. Saying, the 5:30-6:30 time frame was "intended to make it easy for families to attend and still have much of their evening remaining."

The Jan. 20 program closed with everyone singing "Let There Be Peace on Earth." McKinley said peace on earth "seems very important today" and that "Let There Be Peace on Earth" will likely become the event's regular closing song.

For more information on the hour-long program, or to participate, contact McKinley at 651-343-6695 or For businesses, groups or families wishing to sponsor a program or help with meal preparations, contact Lori Jurek at 715-386-3214 or

Roberts Congregational UCC is located on the north side of U.S. Highway 12, just east of the Holiday gas station in Roberts, at 1001 Birch Drive.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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