With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, F. Edgar Nunes, pastor of the Kingston Seventh-day Adventist Church, was asking himself, “What more can my church do to help those in need? We are handing out as many food parcels as our resources allow. But these resources are limited. What more can we do?”
As he looked out at the broad expanse of green surrounding the church, a thought began to take shape. “We can help our neighbours help themselves. We can help our neighbours and the Kingston community by making our large, unused lawn available as a community garden.”
After due consideration and careful research, the church decided to build raised gardens. Each raised bed would cost about $300.00 for wooden frames and topsoil. Local carpenters confirmed that the units could be constructed and delivered within ten days. Realizing that the gardens could be ready for planting by mid-June and harvested throughout the summer and into the fall, the church reached out to ADRA to assist with the costs.
It is always a blessing to receive these requests, to see local churches and groups actively seeking to be the hands and feet of Christ. ADRA considered the request and saw God in it as we, too, were looking to engage in more Canadian projects. And just at that time, God provided a willing church to be the first partner in our very “backyard” so to speak.
In partnership with members from the community, the Kingston church laboured throughout the summer to grow and harvest several hundred pounds of food to share with a local food bank, community kitchen, and families in need. Throughout the fall harvest, bountiful amounts of tomatoes, green cabbages, eggplant, potatoes, garlic, onions, squash, and pumpkin all found their way to needy tables.
One participating member of the Kingston community who had adopted a garden bed remarked that he had lived in the neighbourhood for over 25 years and “had never stepped foot on the church property or came to the church.” This experience, unfortunately, is all too common in our local church communities. But when the community garden survey went out to gauge community interest, he indicated a desire to be a part of it, adopted a garden bed, and when asked about his experience, he responded and said, “this has put a new face to the church!”
Many churches have properties that could be used to meet the needs of families in their communities. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, our houses of worship can remain connected to the community and stay relevant during this trying time. The Kingston church demonstrates this community-focused approach, and ADRA’s Canadian Program would like to recommend it from coast to coast to coast.
May we all strive to put a “new face” to all our churches that will ultimately lead individuals to Him whom they can come to know and see, one day, face to face.