South Florida churches adopt creative ways to minister during COVID-19 crisis

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MIAMI— As a shadow of fear and uncertainty spreads over the nation in response to the  COVID-19 crisis, Florida Baptist churches in the southeast region of the state are finding inventive ways to be the Light of Christ to a world looking for hope and comfort.

While everyone is called to social distancing to slow down the spread of the virus, churches are getting creative with worship and prayer services and are stepping up to help those affected by the crisis.

Many churches, including Fifth Street Baptist Church in Key West, are streaming their worship services, Bible studies and prayer times online through Facebook Live.

Fifth Street is offering an interactive online streaming Bible study and prayer on Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. On Sundays, online streaming services on Facebook Live offer Bible studies for children at 9 a.m., youth 9:30.-10 a.m. and adults from 10:00.-10:45 a.m., according to Pastor Josh Dryer.

Services are interactive for viewers to submit prayer requests or other needs. The church is also offering counseling.

This is one way the church “is here for the community,” during this time of crisis, said Dryer.COVID19 Response, Driftwood ChurchDriftwood Church at the Beach in Jensen Beach also streamed their service online as Pastor Eddy Fredryk preached the Sunday sermon standing in water at the beach.

“We are grateful that we are able to have church in this way,” he said in the Facebook Livestream. “I do miss all of you, but I do think in this situation it is important for us to do what our local and even federal government want us to do.”

Many churches are meeting increased hunger needs caused by restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus in their communities.

Big Coppitt Key Baptist Church, where Jimmy LaBello is pastor, continues its ongoing food ministry to the community. The church serves free food on a weekly basis to all in need regardless of income. Working in collaboration with Feeding South Florida, the church’s food pantry provides uncooked frozen foods, produce, breads and pastries for distribution to the community.

“We usually set up our fellowship hall for people to come in and ’shop’ but now we are distributing the food through a drive-through service,” said LaBello.

This past week more than 100 families received food and this week more are expected.

To make food distribution more efficient, church volunteers have pre-bagged dry foods and meats for the families they expect.

First Baptist Church in Big Pine Key is serving lunch to kids in their community who are now being homeschooled due to school closings.

Christ Fellowship Miami partnered with Caring for Miami to provide dinners for Miami-Dade County school students in response to the closure of county schools.

Pines Baptist Church in Pembroke Pines is setting up a drive-thru food service to community families.  Working in partnership with Feeding South Florida, the church is offering both perishable and non-perishable food items.

“Church volunteers packed food to last a family of four a week,” said Pastor Gary Cromer. On Wednesday March 25, the church blessed 780 families with food.

Pines Baptist is making senior adults a high priority. “Seniors are stuck at home,” said Cromer. Because vans that normally take senior to shop are not running, they are struggling to get their essentials, he explained.

The church with the help of the police department has been able to deliver food in their homes, at assisted living facilities and to churches with significant numbers of older members.

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