St. Paul Presbyterian Church is located in Louisburg, NC in Central North Carolina. They have made healthy eating central to their ministry through the initiative “A Blessing Soup Kitchen,” serving nutritious meals to community members twice a week, providing nonprofit day care, and hosting the Franklin County Reentry Program, to assist recently incarcerated individuals who are re-entering the community. Roslyn Thomas, chair of the church’s Matthew 25 Committee, committed to serving those in need, shared with us how the church has adapted to serve their community:
“As we all struggled to adapt to the new normal, we also grappled with how to support our families. The Matthew 25 Committee’s intention to develop a strategic plan of action on how to tackle our chosen pillar of Eradicating Systemic Poverty was momentarily sidelined by a need to service a community barely able to meet basic needs; a community that had to sometimes make the difficult choice of buying food and medicine or paying the rent; going to work sick or losing a day’s pay.
We had to act immediately! The day care center (Patricia Privette, Director) secured its place of service by becoming a COVID-19 Emergency Child Care Provider. This designation would secure the positions of all current staff members and continue to provide safe and secure childcare services so that community members could continue essential jobs without childcare concerns, while serving as a model to other facilities. It is clear that God’s plan for us to “Eradicate Systemic Poverty” is simply to be like Jesus and meet the people where they are. Enter Blessings Resources Pavilion.
Blessings Resources Pavilion is temporarily using tents to provide our visitors a 24-hour self-service location to obtain life products and educational resources. (Life products include non-perishable food items, produce, clothing, medicine, and hygiene, cleaning, and baby products.) We hold additional events to distribute cold storage items such as meat, eggs, and frozen foods. The tent went up with nothing under it but empty pallets, signs that state ‘Take what you need. Give what you can’ and prayers for the ability to deliver what God needed from us. Our first event was preparing 35 bag lunches for the homeless. Then members of the church contributed money and products to initially stock the pavilion. The community response was immediate and with gratitude. But we realized that St. Paul could not do this alone.
On our daily checkups of the pavilion, we noticed items that we did not put there, or people would give a donation while ‘shopping’ at the pavilion. People in the community are giving what they can. We are also receiving help from other community and faith organizations from as far as 120 miles away. A few of God’s helpers include the Franklin County Interfaith Council made up of local churches, Tar River Baptist Association; Red Springs Mission Camp; Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.; Omega Lambda Omega Chapter; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Oxford-Henderson Alumnae Chapter; members of Franklin County Narcotics Anonymous; Cal-Maine Foods, Louisburg; Heritage High School Wake Forest, NC; NC Baptist Men/Baptists on Mission; and individual contributors.
So far, we have connected with over 200 Franklin County families representing approximately 500 citizens. We have provided information on the COVID-19 pandemic and how to stay safe as well as 75 face masks. We are also providing up-to-date information on the changes to local, state, and federal guidelines as they occur. We have held full-service events where over 2000 lbs. of cold storage food items, including chicken, fish, eggs, yogurt, half and half, buttermilk, frozen soup, fruit and potatoes were dispersed in addition to other life products. Most of all, we serve as an example of the true meaning of Matthew 25 and a source of spiritual guidance and inspiration. As we return to the new normal, St. Paul’s Matthew 25 Committee will continue our outreach of service and education to the underserved members of the community to Eradicate Systemic Poverty.“
We are inspired beyond words and humbled to be in partnership with St. Paul Presbyterian Church. During this time of need they have become the true embodiment of “collaboration.” To learn more about their ministry, visit their website at http://www.stpaulpc.org/.
We encourage you to share with us what your faith community is doing right now by emailing information and photos to Lindsay Barth, PHW Communications Associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org.