118 S. 9th St., Mt Vernon, IL 62864
Hours: Tues.-Thurs. 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.
In 2012, Monte Jo Clark and five other members founded what is now, Kingdom Seed Ministries (KSM). What started as a weekly meeting in Senior Pastor, Tammie Henry’s basement, is now a growing ministry located in downtown Mt. Vernon serving the community in many aspects. In her own words, Clark describes KSM as “a group of goofy, broken people who love Jesus and are trying to do what we hear Him tell us to do.” Along with Clark and Henry, several other members of the ministry are educators who have a heart for kids and instructing. KSM seeks to do church in a different way with the central focus of being a resource for the community. Kingdom Seed Ministries is currently located on South 9th Street, on the courthouse square. The ministry is built on three principles: Teach, Worship, and Reach. The teaching branch of their ministry has hosted secular educational courses including concealed carry classes, first aid and CPR training, and GED classes. KSM hosts worship services every Sunday morning in their building at 11 a.m. The service is teaching and instructional based led by a pastoral team. To further reach the community, KSM hosts their Happy Feet program, the KSM Mid-Week Café, and opens their building up for meeting space and events.
Part of the vision upon founding Kingdom Seed Ministries was to have a building that would be open to the public for various purposes, including a café. In 2016, Clark walked away from a superintendent position in education just five years short of retirement to pursue the calling of ministry on her heart. As a result, the KSM Mid-Week Café was born. The Café is open for lunch Tuesday- Thursday from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. “We are not a restaurant. We are not a soup kitchen. We are something unique.”, Clark explains. The café provides a welcoming environment with bright colors, music, and a friendly atmosphere. Some of Kingdom Seed Ministry’s members started as customers of the Café. “They didn’t have a home church and they liked coming here to the Café and thought, ‘Why not try it out on Sundays?’ and they’ve stayed.” Lunch is offered for a minimum donation of $5 for carry-out and $3 for dining in. Although meals are not free, those who cannot afford the meal are asked to do tasks such as taking out the trash or sweeping floors as payment for their meal.
KSM Mid-Week Café functions as a fundraising effort for the ministry. On Tuesdays, all of the money goes into their Happy Feet program. KSM purchases brand new gym shoes for needy children each year. Since 2013, they have given away 3,000 pairs of shoes for kids in Jefferson County. The local school districts are given vouchers at registration to give out to the children. Shoe Stop brings a box truck filled with shoes to KSM each year and sets up the building like an actual shoe store for the kids to walk through and shop for a pair with their voucher. On Wednesdays, the proceeds fund a weeklong summer camp KSM provides for poverty and trauma-stricken children. The camp is free for children and transportation is provided. The aim is to go beyond telling God’s love by also showing it firsthand. Thursday’s donations fund the groceries for the following week as the café is completely self-sustaining.
The menu for each week is often determined by food donations coming into the building. Although the Café does not ask for donations, various businesses will provide produce, baked goods, and other items. The Café’s weekly menu is posted on their Facebook page every Sunday evening. One lunch option is served each day. “A lot of times we will have themes to our weeks. We try to celebrate all the national food holidays here” Clark explains. Examples of past themed weeks include soup and salad week, pumpkin week, and peanut butter week. The KSM chicken salad is a community favorite. Other customer favorites include meatloaf, taco salad, and tiramisu brownies. The KSM Mid-Week Café sees courthouse workers and other nearby downtown employees regularly for lunch. The Café is run by volunteers and can always use more help to serve and clean.
Apart from the Café, Clark has her own individual catering business, MJ’s Kingdom Catering. She offers casual cuisine for 1 to 100. Luncheons, parties, meetings, and events can all be catered. Clark likes to keep it small and informal. “If you’re looking for a formal, plated, sit down, white linen tablecloth dinner, I’m not your girl. But, if you need a casserole for your backyard BBQ, that’s me!”, Clark remarks.
Kingdom Seed Ministries wants their building to be used for events or other groups. On February 1st, they are hosting their 5th Annual Women’s Conference to include instruction and worship for women in the community. The conference uses the tagline, “In passionate pursuit of His presence.” Called the P3 network, women who attend the conference are invited to a brunch every other month at KSM to stay connected and build off the instruction they learned.
For Clark, the most rewarding part of operating the KSM Mid-Week Café is the relationships she has built. When first opening, Clark encountered a couple living out of their car who came to eat and asked to do work around the building before having a meal. Over the course of 3 years, the couple now lives in an apartment with a full-time job and still stays in touch with Clark often. Clark enjoys the relationships she has built with other local downtown businesses, as well. Looking to the future, Clark hopes to create more awareness about the KSM Mid-Week Café and increase the appeal to those who can help fund the ministry.
Visit Clark every Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday at the Café and enjoy a hearty, homemade meal while supporting the many great missions of Kingdom Seed Ministries.