Sabbath School members partner with community center to feed the homeless in St. Croix

For seven months, Sabbath School members from St. Peter’s Rest Adventist Church in St. an island non-profit organization. The two organizations partner to provide meals two or three times a month.

Lighthouse Mission is a faith-based community service center committed to enriching people’s lives by serving, encouraging, teaching, and challenging children and adults to find meaning and purpose in life through faith. The mission once provided a shelter, with after-school activities, for children. That service has been halted, pending renovations to the building, which has been hit by hurricanes in recent years, mission leaders said.

When Pastor Earl Daniel, former pastor of Peter’s Rest Adventist Church, asked the church board for approval for the partnership, the board unanimously agreed. “You could feel the Holy Spirit in the room – at that board meeting. How could we not serve the community?

Five groups of church members organized through community services provide supplies and prepare meals at the center every second and fourth Sunday of each month. They can feed, connect, encourage and hold worship services in the open pavilion in the center courtyard, church leaders said. Sometimes the mission asks the Adventist group to attend the third Sunday. The center also serves as a pantry and pantry.

Members of Peter’s Rest Adventist Church in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, serve take-out trays after preparing dozens of hot meals for homeless people who visit the flagship mission each week. [Photo: North Caribbean Conference]

Dr. Henry Peters, director of the Northern Caribbean Conference Sabbath School, was pleased with the response from the local church. “The church must respond to the needs of the people in the community, and we must be good, cooperative citizens,” Peters said, adding that Jesus commissioned his people to care for one another. “This initiative is a great example of how Jesus ministered while he was on earth, as Jesus met people’s needs and loved them before sharing the Word with them.”

“We praise the Lord for the partnership we have with the community,” said Abraham Kennedy, pastor of Southgate Baptist Church and director of Lighthouse Mission. “It’s great to share the space, to make a difference in the community. Kennedy has been at the church for 13 years and said the center has been helping those in need for 27 years. “It’s a common ground for people to come and share the ministry.”

Lillian Jeffers, Sabbath School leader at Peter’s Rest Adventist Church, had been volunteering at the Lighthouse Mission before the partnership began in August 2021. “For the past two years, I had personally volunteered at the Lighthouse when I lost my job in 2020,” she said. “It is very rewarding to have my church alongside this ministry.”

The group serves 20 to 30 meals every Sunday, Jeffers added. “People looking forward to the hot meal frequent the town of Christiansted, sleeping wherever they can lay their heads. When they arrive in the morning, we see that they are not rested.

Youth ministries leaders at Peter’s Rest Church recently assembled a group of young people who chose the center as their venue for the Adventist World Church’s Global Youth Day activities in March 2022.

“We want kids to be exposed to real-life situations,” Jeffers said. “We encourage parents to bring their children with them for the ministry opportunity. It’s good to see happy faces on those who come to the center and receive help.

Young people pause to pray before helping to feed the homeless on World Youth Day in March 2022. [Photo: North Caribbean Conference]

Young people pause to pray before helping to feed the homeless on World Youth Day in March 2022. [Photo: North Caribbean Conference]

Herman Ravariere, former Adventist congregation leader, said partnerships with other community organizations are key to building relationships in the community. “If any of us walk down the street and see people, they know us. Those connections are wonderful. It tells people, ‘Hey, Adventists care!’ »

Adventists from several sister churches of the Holy Cross support the community service initiative and partnership with Lighthouse Mission each month.

Ending homelessness may not be possible, Jeffers said. “We know it’s not going to happen, but we’re going to take a big chunk of it.”

Peter’s Rest Adventist Church suffered extensive damage when the fire broke out in the sanctuary in 2020. Nearly 300 members are meeting partly downstairs and under a tent erected to overflow outside.

This article was originally published on the Inter-American Division website

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Jill E. Washington