|The Westminster Chapel at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles Source: (Photo by MarAnthony Aparicio)|
Since the lockdowns of March caused by the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, congregations like Immanuel Presbyterian are having to think creatively about meeting the ministry needs of families. Prior to the pandemic, Immanuel Presbyterian’s weekly food pantry serviced 120 households. However, as unemployment rose, they are now serving more than 2,000 households weekly in one of the with the highest coronavirus cluster outbreaks in Southern California. A pattern that food pantries are experiencing throughout the United States.
Hunger action advocate, Rev. Heidi Worthen Gamble of the Presbytery of the Pacific said, “It’s people who have never stood in food lines before.” Because of the increase of families being served , the congregation became creative about identifying places where to store food that even included cooling ducts in hallways. Gradually, the members began removing pews from its Westminster Chapel to create more storage space.
Remarking on the congregation’s decision to remove the pews, Rev. Andrew Schweibert said, “It was like, ‘Boom! Move it.’ By Monday, they were all gone.”
Partnering their local presbytery, Immanuel and other congregations in Southern California in May held an online concert to raise funds to support ministry relief projects such as Immanuel’s food pantry that raised more than $10,000 to address hunger in the area.
Immanuel hopes that as they continue to meet peoples needs partnerships with Presbyterian Hunger Program (where the congregation has already applied for a grant) and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance will continue to be able to help people throughout the duration of the pandemic.
Source: Presbyterian Church U.S.A.