As our world continues to be impacted by a pandemic, our communities of faith continue to look for ways to be generous stewards through giving their time, talent, treasure, and testimony to be a part of God’s work.
A few weeks ago we invited people to share their “washing one another’s feet” story with us as we seek to follow the example Jesus set for us when he washed his disciples’ feet. Below are some of those stories; we give thanks for how these individuals and congregations are caring for others during a time of incredible need.
From East Hills Moravian Church, Bethlehem, PA:
The Bethlehem Area Moravian Freezer ministry has been busy at work, supplying 1,200 frozen meals and fresh food to our members and neighbors in need over the last few weeks. People who can’t get out to buy groceries, people who can’t cook right now at home, people who need food because they’ve been laid off, people who struggle to make ends meet – all of them and anyone else with the need can get food from the BAM Freezer ministry.
From Rev. Lynnette Delbridge, Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, PA:
Photos by Linda Wickman
Central Moravian Church Food Pantry
On Palm Sunday afternoon, April 5, 2020, just over 50 families drove by to drop off food during our first Drive-By Food Donation. People from at least four different Moravian churches, and non-Moravians who are part of our network of friends, contributed 1,414.5 lbs of food and paper products. These gifts, in addition to the food we receive from Second Harvest made it possible for us to provide food for seniors in two senior facilities (Holy Family and Moravian Houses) and also to service 73 households during our public distribution days in April.
The need for food during these COVID19 pandemic days is so great that we will be adding public distribution hours on Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Our next Drive-By Food Donation will take place on Sunday, May 3rd from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Our clients have and will continue to enjoy your generous gifts of all kinds of non-perishable food items. This month, we especially need coffee, tea, rice, canned beans (black, kidney, garbanzo, and red), as well as macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, jelly, and candy for kids.
Many thanks to everyone for your physically distant smiles and hellos, for your thoughtfulness, and for your generosity. Your care and love makes the food we give more than just food. They make the food we give a spiritual blessing as well.
Sewing Masks for Lehigh Valley Health Network
Central members and others from the larger community have been angels, using their sewing supplies and skills to make masks for healthcare workers in the Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Jan Geier from the LVHN picks them up two or three times a week from the collection bin under the bench by the NE door to Central’s sanctuary building. Jan reports that the bin is often overflowing and that the masks she finds are perfectly made. The masks, along with donations of elastic, fabric, alcohol and other medical supplies, are much appreciated. Jan also reports that the need for masks is still great and that we should continue at the same pace, sewing and helping to supply masks for the 18,000 employees in the LVHN system. If you have masks, supplies, or other in-kind donations and need someone to pick them up from you, please contact Jan Geier at 570-497-6638.
From Laurel Ridge Camp, Conference and Retreat Center, Laurel Springs, NC:
We are thrilled to let you in on the next best thing at Laurel Ridge . . . virtual camp fires! We are experiencing a time of great separation from both the people we care about and the things we enjoy. We, at Laurel Ridge, thought about that, and decided we should remind everyone of how much we still care about you. We have so many generous and willing volunteers to help us put together these brief vespers, and for that we are all thankful! These virtual campfires will be available on our YouTube channel, so make sure to check it out and subscribe to stay up to date on new material.
Click here to visit the Laurel Ridge YouTube Channel.
Here is the link to the first of many Campfire Vespers featuring Daniel Weber (Mstaff) on guitar and his brothers Isaac and J.C.:
If you are interested in watching M-staff teach new games, having Scarlett explain camp-style crafts to keep you busy, reading a blog post about everything related to Laurel Ridge, learning something new from your favorite counselor around a camp fire, or listening to what Laurel Ridge staff is doing to get the mountain ready for this summer, then this is the place! We will release new content weekly and will make sure that you are aware of all this great stuff! You’ll receive a new collection every week!
Keep your head up and keep an eye out for everything you need to stay in touch with all of your Laurel Ridge friends. It’s all new, it’s all good, and it’s all for you.
Carrie V., parent of a Laurel Ridge camper, shared this response: “As soon as school was cancelled indefinitely, my daughter’s first question was, ‘But mommy, they’ll never cancel camp, will they?’ While we don’t know the answer to that yet, I am over the moon that she can get online and experience Laurel Ridge. What a gift to her, to me, and to everyone who loves Laurel Ridge!”
From Rev. Rebecca Sisley, First Moravian Church, Riverside, NJ:
“First Moravian Church, Riverside, is a small congregation. We have an average worship attendance of 42 people but those 42 people have a heart for serving the community around them. When the schools in our area shut down, the congregation members started asking what we could do to serve families in our area. We wanted to make sure that kids had food during this time. The school got back to me with names of families, about 15 of them. We were hoping to use our food pantry, but because of complications, we were not able to. So we started brainstorming: how could we get food and money to people to make sure people had food. That’s when our partnership with Dobbins United Methodist came into play. Their pastor suggested we purchase gift cards. I went to my Joint Board and made an appeal for funds from a mission fund that was set up by a beloved saint of the church, Mildred Leonard. When she passed away, she left everything to the church with the caveat that the funds only be used for mission work, and not to keep pay bills. Over the years, the congregation has distributed funds to mission projects all over the world and locally from the interest off that account. This money has been a blessing to so many and continues to bless people at this time.
For the distribution this month, I asked that $500 from the Mildred Leonard Fund be used to purchase gift cards for these local families in need. The church responded with a resounding YES! And then they went even further. Our Men’s Club purchases gift cards for ShopRite to sell to the church as a fundraiser. They donated $500 in gift cards for this cause. Then our Women’s Fellowship stepped in and donated $500. I reached out to the town council and through a connection with the local VFW, a donation of gift cards is also going to be received. Dobbins United Methodist also made a donation of $250 for gift cards.
Before I knew it, in less than 24 hours, over $1700 had been raised to get gift cards to people who were hungry. And the story doesn’t stop there! The town of Riverside is responding with open hearts as they fill what was originally the Little Library with canned goods and toilet paper for people. We have been given permission to help empty that in order for it to be restocked with items for people to take. We will use those items to pack bags to have available for people to pick up at the church. Members of the community are also reaching out and saying they want to donate items and are organizing drop offs at the church or to be picked up by another to bring to the church.
It’s amazing what a little creativity can do! When we thought that the answer was “no, we can’t help” we have found a way to serve our community and involve the community in our efforts. This would not be possible without the funds that were given by the church members or by Mildred Leonard. Her legacy lives on because she left all she had to her beloved church, knowing that we could use the funds to serve our community.
From Rev. Mandy Mastros, Lancaster Moravian Church, Lancaster, PA:
Here at Lancaster Moravian Church we are doing 2 weekly food distributions of grab and go meals from the sidewalk in front of our church. Saturday mornings (9-10:30) and Tuesday (5-6:30) evenings. We have served anywhere from 80-140 people during these distributions. Local school districts have donated sandwiches, salads, milk, and fresh fruit. Congregation and community members have donated ready to eat non-perishable shelf stable items like tuna packets, crackers, fruit cups, granola bars, drinks, peanut butter and bread. We have had volunteers from our own church, the United Way, and other local churches. We also had an anonymous donor give 100 small hand sanitizers which we were able to put together in bags with an information sheet about Covid-19, a pack of tissues, and a prayer rock. These were quite helpful in making sure the homeless individuals in our community had the correct information. There is a great network of community agencies and churches here in Lancaster that have worked together to stand in the gap and make sure that there are 3 meals available 7 days a week to individuals experiencing food insecurity in our neighborhood. We are blessed to be a part of this widespread community ministry.
Two comments from food recipients:
“Could you please tell your volunteers that Psalm 133 says: “Behold,
how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together
in unity!” I appreciate all that you are doing for us. It is a good
thing. – Roger
“Miss Mandy, I know you are behind this, you and your people are
behind this, making sure that we got enough to eat. Thank you, Miss Mandy!
And God is gonna bless you, God is gonna bless you and your people
tenfold for all that you are doing! You’re blessing us, but you’re gonna be
blessed too. Mark my word Miss Mandy, God is gonna bless you and your people good.” – Darryl
From Marian Carter, First Moravian, Greensboro, NC:
“At First Moravian Church, we have 2 collections each month where we include our children as the “collectors.” We want to help them to hear, see, touch and feel how our contributions make a difference. Our collection on the 2nd Sunday of each month, is called Second Sunday Staple Stampede. During the children’s worship moment, we talk to the children about the significance of the collection, the agency whom we are supporting and how they are important in being the “hands and feet” of Jesus and how they are important in the life of the Church.”
First Greensboro had hoped to be able to offer a drive-by collection box as the church wanted to continue their Second Sunday Staple Stampede in spite of not being together. While they are unable to do that at this time, we wanted to share their story as we think this is a wonderful way to get kids involved in stewardship!
From Angie Renigar, Oak Grove Moravian, Winston-Salem, NC:
Rather than using her free time to get caught up on filing, Angie Renigar, administrative assistant to the pastor at Oak Grove Moravian Church, is calling people. She shared that the voice-to-voice contact has been meaningful and that people like knowing she’s calling from the church building so that they can still feel connected to their place of worship and know it isn’t dark and empty.
Angie has been learning of prayer needs to share with their pastor and sharing those needs with others who want to pray for their church family.
She has also made it a point to share the Daily Text with people as some don’t have a print copy or can’t get online.
Angie said, “Calls are a good thing. They’re a way to keep everyone connected so we’re not so socially distanced that we lose touch.”
What has your community of faith been doing recently to steward relationships with one another and with those in your neighborhood, city, or beyond? We’d love to hear the story so that we can share it in a future post.
During these unsettled days, we know that God is with us in every moment. May you find peace and comfort in His presence and through the love of our Moravian family worldwide.