NEW YORK, N.Y. (BP) — When the COVID-19 pandemic began hitting New York City last month, the leaders of Bridge Community Church in Queens, N.Y., wanted to help. As a small one-year-old church plant, they knew they could not do everything.
They could, however, do something.
Michael Hill, a Southern Baptist church-planting missionary with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), said the church decided to focus on five specific areas: prayer, creating daily 60-second videos of hope, picking up supplies for people who couldn’t get out, providing a sense of connection for the lonely in quarantine and serving frontline workers who needed to work.
On Saturday (March 28), Bridge Community Church partnered with Jackson Heights Community Church to collect needed supplies for healthcare workers. Hill said that despite rainy weather and the numerous obstacles of organizing a collection drive in the middle of a quarantine, they were pleased with the results and will continue to collect supplies in the weeks to come.
“Ultimately, this is what we’ve been called here to do,” Hill said. He moved to the city in 2017 from Lakeview Baptist in Auburn, Ala., where he served as college pastor. “We moved specifically to New York City to share the hope and love that exists through Jesus only. So, we press into this season, where this pandemic is taking hold of our city. Those are the things people are looking for. They’re looking for hope. They’re hungry for peace. They want to have that joy in life.”
The Bridge Community Church is among a number of Southern Baptist churches in New York serving the city in the midst of one of its darkest periods.
The city has become the epicenter of the United States’ battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. More than a third of U.S. cases and deaths have been in the city. Some hospitals are becoming overrun with patients. Over the weekend, the New York Post reported that the city was experiencing a COVID-19 related death every 9.5 minutes.
Taylor Field is a Send Relief missionary and pastor of Graffiti Church located on the Lower East Side of New York City. He said Graffiti Church has first focused on serving people with whom they already had a connection. For example, the church has had opportunities to serve a number of families that were already involved in its tutoring ministry.
Graffiti has a long history of ministering to the city’s homeless population. This weekend, its ministry served 2,000 ready-to-eat meals to the homeless. Typically, Field said, the church has gathered the homeless to feed them, but because of the pandemic, it has been serving grab-and-go meals. North Carolina and Pennsylvania-South Jersey Southern Baptists have pitched in by sending meals for Graffiti to distribute. The Send Relief Ministry Center in Ashland, Ky., also provided meals.
“People are rallying around to help,” Field said. “It’s humbling to see that there is this crisis across our nation, but still people are thinking about New York City where people are just on top of each other.”
In the process of serving the homeless, Field added, they have needed to teach social distancing and hygiene techniques as they distribute the food. When they distributed food last Thursday, the church marked lines on the sidewalk every six feet to show how far people needed to stand away from one another.
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Source: Baptist Press