Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Beltsville Parking Lot Becomes Distribution Site During Pandemic

Story by Alisi Potauaine / Originally Published by the Potomac Conference

Sifa Potauaine, associate pastor of Potomac Conference’s Beltsville (Md.) church, believes innovation is an essential key to life. “We have to adjust to circumstances that are outside of our control—like this pandemic,” he says. “When we cannot actively participate in an act of service, we have to think differently. The Beltsville church is committed to help people in whatever way we can can in whatever circumstances we face.”

Through the church’s main outreach arm—Beltsville Adventist Community Center—Potauaine works closely with local government and community organizations to help those hit hardest economically in the area.

Pre-pandemic, the church’s parking would have been packed with Sabbath worshippers, but on April 4, a gathering of a different sort shaped up. “At 11 a.m. a handful of vehicles pulled into the lot,” says Potauaine. “The cars belonged to a skeleton crew of volunteers—three staff members from District 1 Council Member Tom Dernoga’s office, three from County Executive Angela Alsobrooks’ office, Beltsville Police Officer Kenneth Hibbert and myself.”

Donning masks and gloves, the team worked with a handful of others to set up cones and tables as well as organize pallets of dinners prepared by Catering by Uptown and paid for by Prince George’s County District 1 Council Office. Over the next three hours, cars streamed into the parking lot, names were checked off lists and 500 meals were distributed.

“How can a church serve its community during a pandemic with physical distancing measures in place?” asks Potauaine. “We have to keep adjusting and use the resources we have at hand in new, innovative ways. We are in a challenging time, but God is with us every step of the way.”

The drive-through food pick-up ministry will continue to take place in the Beltsvile church parking lot every Saturday in April.


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