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VALDOSTA — A homeless woman, about 60 years old, recently walked into Hildegard’s downtown. Although she was offered soup and a sandwich, she only choose coffee and a temporary respite against the cold and rain, sitting in a corner seat for much of the day.

Hildegard’s is the Parish Hall (fellowship hall) for Christ the King Episcopal Church and is named after Saint Hildegard who lived in the Middle Ages.

“Over the last several years, we have served thousands of meals to those who had no money to pay,” said Senior Pastor Stan White.

“Because of our location in the very heart of the city, our congregation made a commitment to keep our building open — to be a place of fellowship for all people. Students come in and study, people who have to be at the court house for whatever reason will sit and wait for their appointment time, the occasional transit person will get out of the cold or rain for a few minutes ... We offer food and beverage to anyone that comes through our doors. We are very grateful and do accept donations from those who can give.”  Hildegard’s is also used as a meeting place for many of the community’s clubs and organizations. And it’s where the church has its parish suppers and fellowship gatherings.

White’s all-glassed office is also located in Hildegard’s. It was moved from another floor so he can be more accessible to those enter Hildegard’s.

“I love Downtown Valdosta,” he said. “I committed to the ongoing Renaissance that has been happening over the last several years. I commit to continue to do my part to help build up the ‘Heart of our City’ for the good and benefit of the entire city. It is my opinion that a community is never any more healthy than its urban core. I commit to continue to do my part in attracting diverse, creative, soulful, and energetic people to help us build a wonderful downtown — a place where people live, work, play, worship, create, shop, eat, learn, grow, experience, and love. I see this not just as civic service, but I see this as part of my ministry. And to this ministry, I do feel called.

“I offer everyone an invitation to come down to and enjoy the food and fellowship at Hildegard’s. We will make you a sandwich, dip you bowl of soup or a cone of ice cream — or make you latte or cappuccino. But, most importantly, we will acknowledge you as brother or sister — fellow traveler on this journey we call life.

“We will accept your donation if you have it — or bring us a can of beans or veggies, or some fresh carrots or tomatoes ... and I will make a good pot of soup out of it. Hopefully, it will not only nourish the body but also the soul.”

And the soups he makes himself and laddled out to two visitors Wednesday afternoon were “very delicious.”

White’s talent in the kitchen comes naturally.

“Both of my grandmothers, (Monette Ward and the late Louise White), were wonderful cooks. (Monette Ward is in her 90’s, lives alone in her own home in Valdosta, and still cooks for herself.) I have wonderful memories spending time with both of them in the kitchen. However, my mother (Anne White) raised me to be creative and independent. She gave me the full reign of her kitchen growing up. She allowed me the freedom to cook whatever I wanted for myself — day or night.”

His favorite things to cook include soups, pasta, Italian, Mexican, some German, pork tenderloin, steak, and fresh vegetables.

In addition to cooking, he enjoys music, backpacking, and wilderness camping.

“I guess some of my favorite cooking memories would be the challenge of eating well on backpacking trips. It is quite magical to share a wonderful meal in a beautiful isolated place.”

A native of Dothan, Ala., White has lived in Florida, California, Arizona and Texas, as well as in Valdosta three different times “which adds up to most of my life.”  

He studied Philosophy and Religious Studies at Valdosta State University, studied Bible and Theology at Berean College, and completed the course work for a Doctor of Ministry in Theology and Spirituality at Oakland, Calif.

White has been an Episcopal priest for almost 20 years and serves as the Rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church.

His wife is Deidra White, the owner and operator of The Bleu Group which is a group of three restaurants (Bas Bleu, The Bleu Cafe, and The Bleu Pub). Deidra also serves on the Valdosta City Council representing District 2. His children are Sarah White Nelson, 24, a teacher in Lubbock, Texas, who is married to a federal ATF agent; Skyler, 20, a second-year student at The University of North Texas on a physics scholarship; Nicholas, 9, fourth grader; and Isabella, 8, third grader.

Today, he shares three soups that he makes regularly and that may be available in Hildegard’s, Cabbage Beef, Cream of California Vegetable (Vegetarian), and Moroccan Chick Peas and Spinach (Vegan).

“I see soup as a very organic kind of thing,” he said. “I never measure and if I have to, I will improvise and use what ingredients I have on hand.”

Moroccan Chick Peas and Spinach (Vegan)

sautéed red onions in olive oil

drained and rinsed chick peas

diced tomatoes

tomato sauce

water or vegetable stock

fresh spinach, roughly cut

fresh chopped garlic

salt

black pepper

ground cumin

sweet paprika

ground cinnamon

dash of sugar.

Cabbage Beef

sautéed red onions in olive oil

diced green pepper

browned and drained ground beef

drained and rinsed red kidney beans

diced tomatoes

tomato sauce

fresh chopped garlic

chicken stock

water

fresh rough cut green cabbage

salt

black pepper

chili powder

Creole seasoning

dash of sugar.

Cream of California Vegetable (Vegetarian)

fresh vegetables, roughly chopped, or frozen if you can’t find

cauliflower

broccoli

yellow squash

carrots

Cover with water.

stick of butter

whole milk

can of English peas

can of whole kernel corn

fresh chopped garlic

salt

pepper

chopped oregano

thyme

Creole seasoning

dash of sugar.

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