Church gives Southern cooking restaurant a boost by sharing love with law enforcement

Positively Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It’s all about giving back: A local church is using part of its Valentine’s Love Week offering to say thank you to law enforcement officers and help a Knoxville restaurant at the same time.

At Emma’s Southern Kitchen on Sutherland Avenue, you’ll find down home comfort food on the menu with things like a steaming bowl of shrimp gumbo, a hearty hamburger with homestyle fries, and a heaping helping of chicken fried chicken.

Owner Edward Oliwa has been in the restaurant business in the Knoxville area since 1992. He’s owned Emma’s for the past five years.

“This is all I know,” he said. “I don’t know anything else. It’s the food.”

Business is not booming.

“We’re paying the bills, ” Edward said. “We are content.”

But Emma’s just got a big boost thanks to Redemption Church and its recent “Love Week” offering.

“We purchased 175 gift certificates, and Edward, out of the kindness of his heart, he donated another 25,” said Redemption creative pastor Tim Defendorf.

Each gift certificate is good for one meal at Emma’s for a police officer or sheriff’s deputy.

“We wanted to create a partnership where we’re really able to step up and help a local restaurant but also be able to bless our police officers and our sheriff’s officers as well, ” Defendorf said.

Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler accepted the gift with gratitude.

“You don’t have the words for it when you thank somebody for something like that,” Spangler said. “It doesn’t seem like it’s enough.”

He’s making sure his deputies will have some time to sit down and enjoy a good meal at Emma’s Southern Kitchen.

“We’re so grateful to be able to do that,” Edward said.

Redemption Church is also helping doctors and nurses who treat COVID-19 patients thanks to the generosity of its congregation and leaders.

For more information on Redemption Church and its programs, visit

Find out what’s on the menu at Emma’s Southern Kitchen here:

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