When the COVID-19 pandemic placed the already vulnerable in Bermuda at higher risk earlier this year, the demand for the Church Community Supper Ministry on Wednesday evenings increased, and the need to expand the ministry to other times became evident. Dora Baker, Bermuda Conference Adventist Community Services (ACS) coordinator and St. David’s church Adventist Community Services director, believes that, as Christians, it is our responsibility to follow in the footsteps of our Savior, Jesus Christ, meeting the needs of the vulnerable in our communities, and by doing so, share the love of God in a very tangible way.
Escalating demands for food throughout the island became an impetus for Adventist Community Services Bermuda to do something more. Baker recalls, “As the pandemic increased in Bermuda, I began receiving more and more calls for assistance. The needs were far more than we could meet, as we are a very small congregation with mostly senior members on a fixed income.” Baker asked her ACS team, the elders, and other members of the church to join her in seeking God’s help through prayer. She then reached out to a variety of church and charitable agencies for assistance as the team readied to meet the increasing demands.
As the Bermuda government prepared to implement shelter-in-place regulations to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, God answered the prayers of His people. Following the prompting of Cyril Millett, St. George’s church senior pastor, Baker applied for a grant with the Bermuda Community Foundation. Further applications for grants were made to the North American Division and the Atlantic Union Conference. All requests were successful.
Kenneth Manders, Bermuda Conference president, encouraged Baker to attend a meeting with a philanthropist willing to sponsor the distribution of food vouchers to the needy. As a result, ACS leaders were able to respond to the various requests for food, and the feeding ministries through Adventist Community Services Bermuda continued during the shelter-in-place.
Several members of the church and the community at-large also generously provided much-needed donations of food and finances to the feeding ministry of ACS Bermuda. The grants and donations enabled churches to meet ever-increasing demands.
In addition to serving a meal on Wednesdays, the Hamilton church ACS team, under the leadership of Marva Trott, expanded their feeding ministry to Sundays on a take-out basis. The team prepared the food, packaged it, and distributed it from their center. They serve an average of 400 meals a week; however, their numbers soared to approximately 500 meals per week during the heart of the shelter-in-place period. Every week, the team also distributed food hampers and food vouchers.
As the cooking team at the St. David’s church was significantly reduced, the Bermuda Community Foundation agreed to sponsor cooked meals via a few restaurants that, every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, prepared the food and delivered it to the church for distribution. More than 1,600 meals were distributed during the first three weeks of sheltering-in-place. The numbers rapidly increased as the weeks went by. This ministry extended to members of the St. George’s community, and church members from St. George’s and St. David’s joined forces in the feeding ministry.
While distributing the cooked meals, it was brought to the team’s attention that a few people had not eaten between Wednesday suppers and Mondays when supper was again served. The team decided to provide limited food items to individuals to suffice during this period. Once again, God stepped in and moved on the hearts of the management of Bermuda wholesale importer and distributor Butterfield and Vallis. They provided dry, canned, and refrigerated goods so those in need would have sufficient food to feed their families over the weekends.
Donations from Butterfield and Vallis expanded the church’s food inventory and allowed 67 families to obtain groceries at a free community “shopping” event held in the fellowship hall of the church. This ministry has grown to provide food hampers to nearly 100 families each week. Our thanks to Gerald Burgess and Derrick Ming of Hamilton church, who faithfully assisted with receiving and transporting food items weekly from The Market Place grocery store in the city of Hamilton to the St. David’s church on the southside.
Food Vouchers and More
More recently, the Warwick church ACS leader, Carolina Carter, and her team undertook the distribution of food hampers to selected members of the community. This ministry has seen an increase in demand and, with God’s blessings, they are accommodating all who ask.
Through the combined sponsorship of the philanthropist, the North American Division, Atlantic Union Conference, Bermuda Adventist Community Services, Bermuda Community Foundation, and individual donations, all ACS leaders engaged in meeting the needs for food in their community.
We much appreciate the strong collaboration among all ACS Bermuda local church leaders in providing cooked meals, distributing food vouchers and food hampers, and meeting other non-food related needs. They served with grace and love, and those ministered to were genuinely thankful. In addition to the ACS Bermuda leaders mentioned above, gratitude is extended to Joseph Young of Somerset church, Terrylynn Gibbons of Rockaway church, Dianne Furbert of Southampton church, Carolin Scott of Pembroke church, Muriel Roach of Devonshire church, Tammy Robinson of Midland Heights church, and Damon Hendrickson, pastor of Restoration Ministries.
ACS Bermuda is grateful for the support received from the Bermuda Conference administrative team and staff. They also value the services of our non-church-member volunteers. One evening at St. David’s church, after distributing food hampers, a member of the community out walking his dog stopped by and inquired about the food ministry and its sponsorship. Calvin White, a church elder, answered all of his questions. As a result, the visitor joined in service and invited his friends from the neighborhood to join. They are now faithful volunteers of the St. David’s church ACS team.
ACS Bermuda invites everyone to pray that God will continue to provide the resources to allow this ministry to continue to meet the needs of their communities, and to strengthen all Adventist Community Services teams that serve the people in Bermuda on behalf of the Master-Servant, Jesus Christ.
— Bermuda Conference Adventist Community Services staff; this article originally appeared on the Atlantic Union Gleaner website in September 2020.