Churches ‘stepping up’ to feed communities during COVID-19 crisis
March 23rd, 2020 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments
ROCKWALL and HOUSTON—Although churches may be online in coming weeks, they are far from idle, as shown by two large Dallas and Houston area Southern Baptists of Texas Convention congregations whose members are actively engaged in community food distribution.
“We are not shutting down. We are stepping up,” Josh Howerton, pastor of the DFW-area, multi-campus Lake Pointe Church, reassured members in a Mar. 18 message posted on the church’s Facebook page and website.
“The world is scared, confused and looking for answers,” Howerton said. “In the message of Jesus, we have those answers.”
As for the larger community, Howerton posted on Mar. 17 that Lake Pointe plans to continue the food drive started last weekend, when members and friends brought 75,000 pounds of canned pasta, peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, snack bars, crackers, canned fruit and hand soap to the church’s six locations, filling 4,000 boxes for distribution to local agencies serving children and the elderly.
All physical Lake Pointe locations will be open from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Sundays to receive donations.
Northeast Houston Baptist Church will continue food distribution at its Farrington Mission, a physical needs clothing and food ministry the church has operated for a decade in Houston’s Fifth Ward.
Normally, Farrington Mission is open Mondays and Thursdays for clients. With social distancing now a mandate, the process will change starting Mar. 23 when clients will drive up and receive pre-packed, sealed food boxes from the Houston Food Bank, which has requested the church operate the distribution center two days a week.
Volunteers will greet drivers, speak to them from an appropriate distance, pray with them if requested and share the gospel as the occasion allows. At the distribution point, drivers will pop their trunks and volunteers will load food in the trunks. Items provided by the Houston Food Bank will be supplemented with those donated by NEHBC and other churches.
“Our clientele are mostly hourly and day laborers. With the coronavirus [leading] to a recession, it will be difficult to find hourly work,” James Jordan, NEHBC associate pastor, told the TEXAN.
“Many live paycheck to paycheck. They will be challenged to pay the rent and put food on the table,” Jordan added, emphasizing that volunteers will be careful about hygiene and social distancing from one another and from clients.
Jordan said that when the new platform begins the church will use some 125 volunteers next Monday, more than half of whom will stay home and pray. Others, at the distribution site, will carefully adhere to CDC guidelines yet are allowed on campus because of the urgent need for food distribution and their connection to the Houston Food Bank.
The current version of the food ministry at Farrington Mission continues NEHBC’s 10-year collaboration with the Houston Food Bank, a large non-profit that warehouses food and distributes it through community partners like the church.
The church conducted a similar drive-by food distribution process after Hurricane Harvey.
“In Harvey, we got in cars with people. Now we are keeping our distance,” Jordan said, adding that on both occasions, “We are sharing light in the darkness. And sharing hope in a world that desperately needs it,” where “unrest and uncertainty” abound.