A Hot Meal With a Serving of Love

Feeding Neighbors in Covington, Louisiana
September 1, 2022

They put their needs second, and served others first. The Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church in Covington, Louisiana has had a long history of serving the community with hot meals for the less fortunate and showing their neighbors and abundance of love. “We already had the feeding ministry in our church, but during COVID-19, our feeding ministry went up another level,” said Raynell Smith, Ephesus pastor.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith said the church members still wanted to be relevant by making an impact during a time when many people were having hardships. “Our feeding ministry was able to stay connected with the entire community,” he said. “Every Tuesday, we would have hot food for the community.”

However, the Ephesus church was going to have to increase the level of food distribution even more. “At the time, we had no idea how much the feeding ministry would increase after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana,” said Smith. Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf Coast in August of 2021 and the church soon noticed it was becoming difficult for the community to receive goods and services for the assistance they needed.

“We decided to place even more effort in the feeding program, and the response was even higher than what we had during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Smith said. Although he doesn't have a specific amount, the number of hot meals distributed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida was doubled. “We were not only giving hot meals to the community, but we were also meeting with them and talking to them. They were very grateful,” Smith shared. “Our community partners kicked in and helped us, and our church members, along with their families, went above and beyond.”

The youth at Ephesus church would go door to door handing out meals to neighboring families, something that is still happening to this day, noted Smith. Under the leadership of Glynn Bradley, the community services department of the Ephesus church has been providing meals to a growing list of recipients throughout the city of Covington and sharing God’s love with its community.

“We have a great core team in our community services department led by Glynn,” said Smith. “Some of our volunteers make sure not just to give people food, but to make them smile or talk to them to see how they are doing.”

After Ida, many of the Ephesus church members lost power and had trees fall in their yards, but they stepped out in faith. The members put others’ needs before theirs and made themselves available to keep the ministry going. “During this time the church members saw more opportunity to bless the community through the ministry,” Smith said.

At one point, the church had to close down the kitchen, but a couple of its members stepped up and opened their homes to cook the meals. “We know that that mission is for us to reach as many people as possible through this ministry,” Smith shared. “We never know how it can bless people beyond giving them food.”

By Saul A. Flores. Flores is a freelance writer based in Milford, Connecticut. The Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church is a church in the Southwest Region Conference.