NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- Since the surge of the pandemic in March 2020, Faith Lutheran in New Providence has again demonstrated that it is not a church building but a servant community. Because of the contagion of COVID 19, social ministry programs have not been able to occur physically. Nonetheless, the members of Faith have overcome obstacles and continued to conduct their ministries.
Managing this persistent and tenacious initiative is Faith’s pastor, Rev. Jane McCready.
The following describes the ministries, adjustments that have been required and the names of Faith’s members, who lead the ministries.
St. John’s Soup Kitchen in Newark – Since March 2020; members, co-workers and friends of Faith have prepared, over 35,000 sandwiches for the homeless persons served by St. John’s. The sandwiches, an average of 775 per week, are delivered by Faith each Thursday morning to St. John’s. Included with this delivery are fresh fruit, baked goods, snacks and toiletries. Prior to the pandemic, on the second Saturday of every month, for the past thirty-six years, Faith has prepared and served a comprehensive hot meal for the clients of St. John’s.
This ministry is led by Joanne and Mike Warin of New Providence and Désirée Bouchat of Springfield.
Family Promise - Is an organization of churches, which hosts families and individuals who are temporarily homeless, with each church providing care for a week at a time. Faith has participated in this program about four times a year for the past three decades. The ministry changed dramatically with COVID 19. In place of hosting, Faith has made generous financial gifts, given three pre-owned cars, grocery store gift cards and clothing to Family Promise, for the people it serves.
This program is led by Kim Delatour of Berkeley Heights
Broadway House for Continuing Care – Is a facility in Newark where about eighty persons suffering from HIV/AIDS live. The patients receive care from doctors, nurses, therapists and counselors. Twice a month, a small group from Faith has gone to Broadway House, to do crafts and visit with the residents. In response to COVID 19, Broadway House was closed to visitors.
Wendy Naratil of Warren, the leader of the ministry, continues to send to each resident a 3D or music birthday card from Faith. Broadway House says Mrs. Naratil’s card may be the only birthday greeting that a resident receives.
New Providence Fall Food Drive – Each November, Faith partners with the New Providence Community Service Association (CSA) and the New Providence Cub and Boy Scouts to collect food for needy families. The food is donated to Star Fish Pantry in Plainfield and the CSA. A major part of the Drive is about 130 people gathering on a Saturday in November to sort and pack the food. This collection of close working people could not occur in November 2020.
To substitute, members of Faith generously gave checks and gift cards to Starfish Pantry and CSA.
The chairperson for Faith is Cheryl Bock of Summit.
CROP Walk to Stop Hunger – Is a three-mile walk through New Providence on a fall Sunday afternoon by members of Faith and other local churches. The purpose of the Walk is to raise money to help eradicate hunger in the United States and around the world. The members of the churches walk as a group, with many carrying signs to publicize this social issue.
In the fall of 2020, a group walk of about 90 persons could not occur. Mike Warin of Faith and New Providence, the chairperson; planned and managed a group walk. Participants could choose the time, route and length of their walks. The virtual walkers achieved $3,120 in contributions toward the reduction of hunger.
Christmas Sharing Tree – Through this ministry, members of Faith buy Christmas gifts for persons, who live in social agency homes or face economic stress. COVID 19 changed past procedures. While the Sharing Tree was virtual, the gifts for recipients were real. They could choose from a warm hat/scarf/gloves set or a cozy sweatshirt sized to fit.
The leader of the Sharing Tree ministry is Joanne Berryman of Madison.
Knit, Purl and Pray Group – The members faced a new experience in 2020. They were unable to meet together and share fellowship, while doing their knitting and crocheting. Nevertheless, the group, working individually at home, made 110 hats and scarves for St. John’s Soup Kitchen, 337 baby hats for University Hospital in Newark, 60 hats and scarves for St. Stephen’s Grace Church in Newark, whose members are largely immigrants, five prayer shawls and four comfort hearts.
The group is led by Theresa Adamson of Warren and Joyce Brandt of Sterling.
Previously Owned Bikes - In August of 2020, Faith collected 170 used bikes, repaired them and arranged for their shipment to rural Thailand. The bikes are being used by persons to travel to work, go to market and receive medical care. The bikes were collected on behalf of Pedals for Progress (P4P), an organization that recycles bikes for persons in developing countries. Faith contributed $1700 for the shipment of the bikes.
Casey Walsh of Bridgewater is the leader of the ministry,
Tutoring Immigrant Children - Once a month about fifteen members of Faith have been tutoring Guatemalan children in English and math at St. Stephan’s Grace Church in the Ironbound section of Newark. The members work with adults, as well, who want to improve their English. At the end of the tutoring, the entire group always plays bingo.
March 2020 changed everything. While members of Faith could no longer go to Newark to teach the children, Faith did not forget them. Faith gave a check to Pastor Moacir of St. Stephan’s Grace to help the immigrant children and their families buy food. At Christmas, the tutors gave thirty-seven sweatshirts to the children and their fathers and money for food. The above-mentioned, Knit, Purl and Pray group, made hats and scarf sets for the children and their fathers.
Kim Delatour of Berkeley Heights is the leader of the tutoring program.
Each Sunday morning, Faith’s 10 am, liturgical service, led by Pastor Jane McCready, can be seen at facebook.com/FaithLutheranNewProvidence/live Rev. Lucas Vaga of Millington.
The two associate pastors of Faith are Rev. Robert Kriesat of Convent Station and Faith is located at 524 South Street in New Providence. Visit online at famfaith.org or reach by phone at 908-464-5177.