NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Some well-off New York City residents have paid $100 each for the honor of eating a candlelit holiday dinner with homeless people at a church.

The Rev. Edward Sunderland says he hopes Friday’s unusual mealtime coupling of haves and have-nots at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan will become a trend across America.

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About 500 people dined at large round tables beneath the church’s high ceiling. Chefs from The New York Palace and The Waldorf-Astoria hotels provided roasted turkey, buttered mashed potatoes, red velvet cake, pumpkin cheesecake and other delights. A piano played softly in the background.

“It was magical. All of our soup kitchen regulars came up to me and said how thrilled they were to have more than just a quick turkey dinner,” Edward Sunderland said, associate rector at St. Bartholomew’s.

Sunderland says the dinner is a chance for people to get to know each other in a safe place and for donors to see who benefits from their charitable instincts.

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“In ordinary circumstances, people who are not hungry or homeless, don’t know how to interact with other people but if you put a really stunning meal in front of people, in a beaiutful; sapce, you give something in common,” he told WCBS 880.

Sunderland said it was the first time they invited people beyond the soup kitchen.

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