By Tia Lynn Ivey
After more than 30 years of orchestrating the Community Thanksgiving Meal, in which a Thanksgiving feast is served to needy families in the community at the high school, Calvary Baptist Church was forced to cancel this past Thanksgiving due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, the leaders of Calvary Baptist Church would not be deterred in their mission to do good in the community, believing that when God closes one door, He opens a window leading to someplace new.
Calvary Baptist Church of Madison has launched a new meal program for those in need as the coronavirus pandemic continues to create health hazards and economic hardships. The Manna from Heaven program, which is a biblical reference to the story of God miraculously providing bread (manna) from heaven to the Israelites wandering through the desert, started up in October.
“With the pandemic going on, we can’t host a big event like the annual Thanksgiving Community meal, but God led us in a different direction to help the people in our community,” said Carla Johnson, a member of Calvary Baptist Church coordinating the new program. “This is what He wants us to do so we are doing it.”
The Manna from Heaven program provides about 160 meals per week to the most vulnerable populations in the county: the homeless, the disabled and the elderly. Carla Johnson, a member of Calvary Baptist Church is coordinating the program, in which volunteers deliver meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays, both lunch and dinner.
“We felt there was a need here even before the pandemic, but so much more so now with the pandemic still going on, we felt this is something we should do for our community,” said Johnson.
Calvary Baptist has been instrumental in other food giveaway efforts since the pandemic began, under the leadership of Reverend Hoke Smith and his wife Ann Smith, who both have a vision for feeding and caring the most vulnerable in the community.
Reverend Hoke Smith believes stepping up in times of need should be the top priority of Christians.
“This is our calling to serve and to do good in the community,” said Smith earlier this year. “We feel that it is important through this pandemic that we are here to support those who are unable to work, unable to buy groceries. Some can’t pay the light bill and gas bill and we are here to help as much as we possibly can.”
“I cannot say enough how grateful I am to God for allowing us to be able to do this,” said Ann Smith. “We are blessed to be a blessing to our brothers and sisters who are going through difficult times. But we know God will bring us through it.”
The Manna from Heaven program aims to provide recipients with “hearty” meals this winter.
“We are doing sandwiches, soups, crackers, and tossed salads for lunch. For dinner, we are doing meats with two vegetables. Trying to keep it somewhat healthy, but now that winter is here we are giving people some comfort food,” said Johnson.
Calvary Baptist Church is funding the new Manna from Heaven program solely through donations. To help Calvary Baptist continue delivering meals to those who need it most, contact Calvary Baptist Church in Madison at: (706) 342-4260. Or e-mail Carla Johnson at: carlajohnsonCJ602@gmail.com or Keisha Jones at KeishaLJones@yahoo.com.