Palm Sunday was different this year at Mary Queen of Peace. Normally, parishioners would grab palms on their way to their pews. Instead, Father Doug Brown, pastor of Mary Queen of Peace, hosted a drive-by distribution of palms.
Wearing a mask and gloves and standing on the curb next to the church, he passed the palms through car windows. Later that week, there was another drive-by. This time, parishioners drove up with their baskets of Easter food in the passenger or back seat. Father Brown blessed the baskets from the curb.
Food ministry has been a major part of the church’s outreach for years. While their ministry has not slowed, they have had to adapt to maintain the health and safety of both the volunteers and recipients.
Now volunteers wear gloves and masks, and all meals are provided as take out.
On Easter Sunday, with food from St. Augustine Hunger Center, one of their regular suppliers, they gave out meals including ham, macaroni salad, a fruit cup, and a drink through the back door of the Parish Center.
MQP regularly hosts a mobile food pantry with the Cleveland Food Bank from 9:00 am to 11:00 am on the third Saturday of the month. Instead of people congregating, now recipients wait in line in their cars. When it is their turn, they drive up and pop open their trunks. MQP volunteers load the produce, close the trunk, and send them on their way.
They follow a similar procedure for their regular third Sunday of the month free community meals. Recipients remain in their cars, drive up to the back of the Parish Center and pick up their meals. Those without a vehicle, however, still have the option to receive their take out meals from the Parish Center’s back door.
“Sometimes people don’t need the food as much as the generous act of food being made for them.”
While their food ministry feeds the body, Father Brown also knows his parishioners’ souls are hungry. Since they aren’t able to meet and worship in person, Fr. Brown shares daily two-minute videos. They’re usually spontaneous inspirations, but are always meant to give comfort and encouragement until they’re able to resume communal worship.
What You Can Do
Father Brown says that there is a great need for community outreach. All it takes is a desire to be of assistance and some organization.
- Pray for all those who are on the front lines! For many, their workload has increased, and they need all of the support they can get. Pray for ministry leaders as they navigate the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs of their flocks. Pray for congregants and parishioners who may be feeling discouraged and displaced.
- Does your church have a food ministry that could be transitioned to meet needs during COVID-19? If not, check with your local food banks to see if they need help with distribution.
- Pastors – Think about sending similar encouragement to your flocks. A video can be short, and recorded on a cell phone or laptop. Upload them to YouTube, Facebook, or even your church’s website or email newsletter.
- To support Mary Queen of Peace financially, you can text-to-give at 216-208-8120.