Urbanna Baptist Church Hosts Drive-through Dinners for Community
Local church hosts drive-through community dinners during pandemic
by Bruce Powers
Like many churches during the Covid era, Urbanna Baptist Church (UBC) found itself in uncharted waters. “Once we realized everything wouldn’t be over in a few weeks, our leadership got together to figure out how we could continue being the church with all the new fears and restrictions,” said Pastor Bruce Powers. "We tried to focus on the great new ideas we might find, rather than on the things we couldn't do."
As Fall 2020 rolled around, the congregation was keenly feeling the loss of togetherness. “Usually we start our family suppers in the fall, and that is one of our favorite things,” observed Don McNamee, a deacon and coordinator for the kitchen team. Realizing that having a group of people eat together inside simply wasn’t safe, UBC’s deacons decided to try something new. Instead of a supper just for church members, they announced a drive-through dinner for the whole community—and it would be free!
“We wanted to do something for our church members but also give a boost to the folks in town,” noted Garth Wheeler, the chair of deacons. They put an invitation in the local newspaper and served 170 fish dinners, compared to a typical Wednesday night crowd of about 50. The volunteers had a great time working together to fix the meals and enjoyed chatting with members and neighbors alike as folks drove through the church parking lot to pick up their meals. It was a big success all around. “Even though we said it was free and didn’t ask for donations, many people wanted to contribute and we ended up with enough money to fund another dinner!” remarked Wheeler.
After several more drive-through dinners, the deacons began to discuss ways to extend the community elements. “We started wondering if some of our local businesses might be interested in partnering with us to serve the town,” recalled Powers. After a few conversations, UBC partnered with Something Different, a restaurant in downtown Urbanna. The church put up the funding, which gave the restaurant income on a day when they would have normally been closed, and Something Different ordered and prepared the food.
“We had a great time and served 200 delicious barbecue meals to folks throughout Urbanna,” said Aubrey Hall, another of the deacons. “We gave a boost to a local business and reminded the community that we are here.” It was a win all around.
Bruce Powers is pastor of Urbanna Baptist Church in Urbanna, Virginia.