Friday, March 27, 2020
Meal Ministries and COVID-19
All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).
2 Proper honor must be shown to all...
Chapter 53 on Hospitality -- Rule of St. Benedict 516 AD
Both the last congregation I served before retirement which is here in Belleville and the congregation in which we're involved now in Trenton have meal ministries. At Bridge St. UC and Trenton UC the goal is to respond to meal guests in the challenge of their food insecurity and to do so with respect for their personhood. These are unique individuals, loved by God, who want to live with dignity and hope.
In the midsts of the COVID-19 pandemic, our version of the plague, many meal ministries are struggling to figure out how to continue their important work. How can people self-isolate and prepare meals? How can guests come together for meals when gatherings are prohibilted. At Bridge St. the End of the Month hot meal program had to be put on hold because of the coronavirus threat. But yesterday there was a news release about what appears to be an addition to the meal ministries out of Bridge St.
Starting Friday, March 27, 2020, a free ‘take away’ lunch will be served every day from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bridge Street United Church, 60 Bridge Street East, compliments of Bridge Street United Church, the Enrichment Centre for Mental Health, and the Community Development Council of Quinte. Lunch includes soup, sandwich, fresh fruit, and a snack.
I know that Trenton United has been given permission by the Health Unit to continue distributing meals, even though the congregation can no longer serve a sit-down meal. They have already served one, and want to continue.
The logistics of providing these meal services is considerable and there is no replacement for the interaction of guests and hosts, as well as the conversations between guests, many of whom already deal with social isolation. Meal ministries address body, mind, and spirit, and aspects of this will be lost.
Please pray for those in leadership in faith community meal ministries who are making decisions about what they can provide and for those who will prepare and distribute meals.
Pray for the guests who are "food insecure" and also crave social contact. In these anxious times they need our support and a sense of Christ's embracing love.