Well, the folks at Riverside are still providing for their community, and with the increased need for food among people who’ve lost their income due to businesses closing, that ministry is needed now more than ever. Pastor Dave let me know that they’ve had to shift gears and the Lighthouse Shops have now become the Lighthouse Emergency Food Pantry. They have a small crew of under-60 volunteers. Instead of coming inside, people come to the rear of the church where they can receive boxes of free food that are arranged on a table. The boxes have been prepared in advance and are rolled up a conveyor belt and out the window onto a table where they can be picked up by the people needing them.
Additionally, the church is also offering "extras" for a suggested donation. I remember when I visited the Shops last year, the prices were all set in such a way to make food affordable and they are still operating this way with the “extras.” A box of meat is $5.00. There are also veggies and home goods in the Church’s garage next door where items are on tables and the person tending them stands back at a distance. All the volunteers wear masks and gloves and maintain the appropriate physical distance. The food supply has been steady with donations covering all the expenses. They are serving about 150 people a week plus they've been providing food support for a local school's outreach program as well.
During this pandemic, all of our churches have had to make changes in order to continue their ministry and the Riverside Congregational Church in Riverside, Rhode Island is serving mightily. Pastor Dave told me, “Lighthouse continuing to serve has been a blessing for the neighborhood as well as for our members. It means a lot to the church that the mission is continuing. We consider Bettyann, our moderator and her crew our heroes.”
They are indeed acting as disciples as the make God’s love and justice real in their corner of the world.
The Rev. Marilyn Kendrix is Bridge Conference Minister. Kendrix, a 2013 graduate of Yale Divinity, earned that school’s Henry Hallam Tweedy Prize for exceptional promise in pastoral leadership, the highest prize conferred on a graduating student ...