The Real Life Center distribution center in Tyrone helps feed as many as 300 families a month. GBMB screengrab
DULUTH – While the Mission Georgia emphasis Project: Well Fed wraps up this week, panelists on the Mission Georgia webinar “How Georgia Churches Are Meeting Needs Through Food Ministry During COVID (And Your Church Can Too)” on July 23 shared ways to continue this emphasis throughout the pandemic and beyond.
The webinar, hosted by Scott Smith, online content strategist for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, and Lorna Bius, Mission Georgia mobilizer for the GBMB, addressed the growing food crisis in Georgia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though the crisis is real, “churches and ministries are stepping up to serve families and individuals who are struggling to keep food on the table,” Bius said.
The webinar offered listeners ways that the panelists (ministry leaders from around Georgia) are adjusting to better serve their communities during this time and an opportunity to learn how they, too, can be involved in food ministry.
Sandra Hammack, member First Baptist Church in Gray, shared about her work with Central Baptist Association’s Jones County’s Mobile Pantry. They run a collaborative, regular food distribution service to meet a void in the area.
Ken Bevel, local missions pastor at Albany’s Sherwood Baptist, explained that their 66,000 square foot “old Coca-Cola plant” is used for missions, housing their disaster relief ministry, life skills labs, and education ministries.
Keith Ivey, Northeast Georgia missions consultant for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, helps around 600 churches in the Northeast Region “raise the bar, raise engagement in local, state, national, and international missions,” he shared.
“This is a big part of reaching our communities. It’s a huge, meaningful outreach that helps us connect with people and build relationships that are gospel relationships,” Ivey said. He provided a broader view of several ministries that are serving this need in the Northeast Region.
Cathy Berggren, executive director for the Real Life Center in Tyrone, shared that their ministry is focused on helping individuals with the “unexpected” events – job loss, disability, divorce, etc. They strive to meet basic needs help those they serve find stability. Eventually, they switch to an “investment strategy to invest in them for long term change.”
Programs include food, financial assistance, clothing, career help, coaching/counseling – a “variety of programs that can help someone get to the next level to be who God called them to be,” Cathy Berggren explained.
Steve McCombs, global connections pastor at Tabernacle Baptist in Cartersville, shared that through their Bread of Life ministry, they “feed spiritually as well as physically.” They also mobilize their membership through a program called “Hello Neighbor” to go into their neighborhoods to find needs and report them back to the church to collaborate to reach those needs.
Panelists shared how their respective ministries have pivoted as COVID-19 and its effects have impacted communities. Food insecurity needs that didn’t exist before due to the recession and isolation of many have changed the way many are operating and even who they are now serving.
“It’s a real crisis time,” Bius concluded.
She continued, “I’d ask you to pray for individuals and families in your community that the love of God would come through the Body of Christ and believers. It’s a difficult time, but it’s also a time for us to really proclaim the hope of the gospel.”
For information on how you can get involved or give to Mission Georgia Project: Well Fed, visit MissionGeorgia.org/ProjectWellFed.