Bethany, Detroit’s food bank has been operating for a number of years. It used to be quite the social event—clients would walk into the pantry, get in line, fill their bags with food, then linger and have coffee and a treat while visiting with others. Church members would be there to help bag the food and to pray with the clients.
When the pandemic hit, a lot of that had to change. The food pantry continued to serve people twice a month, but now social distancing was required. The food was moved to another part of the building that had more space. Tables were placed outside the doors with bags of food, already filled. Since no large groups were allowed, the church decided that making appointments was the best way to handle the distribution. People could then come one at a time, pick up their bags, and leave.
Rev. Harold Avers, one of the volunteers who help with the food bank, spends Wednesday mornings making phone calls trying to reach people who used to come and asking them to make an appointment. Most people don’t answer the calls. He says that, for whatever reason, the number of people who come for food has dropped dramatically during the pandemic. They now serve approximately 25-30 individuals (who usually represent families) twice a month. Before the pandemic, they would serve up to 100. However, the need for food is still prevalent, and Bethany is there to serve them.
And then there is the story of a gentleman from Eastpointe who called requesting food delivery. He called three times, desperate to feed his family. Although Bethany does not deliver food, when he called the third time, Avers was reminded of the Bible passage from Luke 11—the friend who persists in asking for bread until finally he is helped—and they agreed to drive the food to the man’s house. Avers asked the man how he had found Bethany’s food bank, and he replied he had been calling every food bank he could find in the area, and Bethany was his only response.
Although challenges abound, Bethany, Detroit continues to find new and varied ways to serve the needs of its community, evangelizing, discipling, and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ in the city of Detroit.
Bethany is connected to Acts 2 Enterprise (A2E), a strategic and holistic urban outreach initiative of the Michigan District, LCMS based on the work of Jesus and His disciples in the early church as recorded in the book of Acts. A2E is supported, in part, through the Innovative Missional Ministry initiative of the District’s Here We Stand Campaign. To learn more about this ministry and others like it, click here.
Photos by Elisa Schulz/Michigan District, LCMS