Every month, Southside Baptist Church in Carthage opens its doors — and lunch tables — to the community.

It’s part of a new “Open Table” series, where church members and the community are invited to come together, break bread and enjoy each other’s company over lunch.

“The idea is just an open table for anybody — not any religion, not any saved, unsaved, not popular, unpopular — to just have an open table and to come and eat for free,” Deacon Sonny Grimes said.

The church has hosted three Open Table events, each time directly after the 10:45 a.m. service on Sunday. Volunteers sign up to host a meal, with recent menus including brisket and fried chicken.

“It’s been very good,” Grimes said. “We’ve had people from other churches sometimes come after their church. They’ll come over here and visit, and it’s open to anyone.”

It’s one of a number of events the church has been hosting to remind the wider Carthage community that they are here, Grimes said.

“It means a lot to me that we can still reach out even though we’re not the biggest church in town anymore,” he said.

The goal each month: Just to sit down and fellowship and to find our commonality, Grimes said.

“We all try to sit at different tables than we’re not normally at,” he said. “Families kind of break up or sometimes we’ll sit at a table of one of the older ones that we don’t know that well and just visit.”


Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.