Among the first: St. John Ev. Lutheran in Brooklyn

Among the first: St. John Ev. Lutheran in Brooklyn

Pastor Jason Tabor discusses the effects of Covid-19 in one of the hardest hits part of New York City and the opportunities that it has provided

Pastor Jason Tabor laughed when asked if Covid-19 had affected his ministry at St. John the Evangelist Lutheran Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. From his chuckle, it was easy to tell that it should have been assumed that this ministry had been affected since many neighborhoods in Brooklyn were some of the hardest hit areas in terms of cases and deaths. This church in particular had some of the earliest reported deaths in the Atlantic District. This pandemic, however, has not stopped God’s work in the District, or in this church.

This pandemic may have driven Pastor Tabor and the people of St. John’s to online services and Bible studies, but it also drove the members to reach out to each other and to Pastor Tabor in caring support as he ministered to those sick, near death, and grieving. It drove Pastor Tabor and his congregation into action.

Together with another local church and with an idea set to begin after Easter, Pastor Tabor and his members immediately used connections to local community organizations and neighborhood markets to organize, support, and staff a food pantry open to the Williamsburg community. Since March, this food pantry has served 150 to 175 families most affected by Covid-19 through not just sickness and death, but also loss of employment, income, and financial security. Because of the efforts of Pastor Tabor and his volunteers, the food pantry has offered these people 1700 pounds of fresh produce a week; hot-cooked meals; and, most of all, a place to come and connect at a time when real connections are hard to come by. With a generous donation from LCEF, this pantry has also been able to give 300 families rice and other dry goods to supplement the items provided in the pantry.

“God has shown me that this place and this group of people in Williamsburg are more resilient that I thought they were,“ Pastor Tabor comments when asked what he has learned from this experience. “I’ve heard them tell stories of living through World Wars and the Depression.” Now, he has seen firsthand how these people show their strength and compassion in the face of hardship. “When they reach out to me to tell me that they are praying for me, it’s powerful. When I run out of words and I don’t know what to say anymore, the people around me are so loving and caring, they give me words again.” Through this, he has learned a real, concrete way to walk someone through grief and loss.

When asked if this is what he expected to be doing as a pastor five years ago at his ordination, he said, “No. But it is what I wanted it to be. Right now we are doing something worthwhile and tangible. This is the piece of my work that most energizes me: connecting resources with the people who need them and connecting with the volunteers.” He believes this is focused and simple, and that God is truly in charge and leading them through this task.

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