In rural Virginia Beach, Oak Grove Baptist bridges the coronavirus distance with drive-through dinner for community

Wearing a mask and gloves, Jacob Stout, 11, of Redwing hands over meals during a drive-through community meal on Thursday, April 2, at Oak Grove Baptist Church. Another volunteer, 14-year-old Joshua Bailey of Blackwater, helped during the event. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

CREEDS — On a Thursday evening in early April, a couple of weeks into our local response to a pandemic, members of Oak Grove Baptist Church cooked up a ham dinner in the church kitchen, wore gloves and masks while packaging it and headed to the parking lot to bring food and fellowship to the church family and community members who drove from throughout Virginia Beach and Knotts Island, N.C.  

The drive-through dinner meant freshly-cooked, free meals for people, but it also delivered moments to speak with the Rev. Chuck Moseley, the pastor at Oak Grove, about prayer concerns and, as needed, let church members know about needs for families or others struggling at a time in which some people have lost liveihoods and certain supplies are scarce.

And it was a moment of connection and fellowship, however brief, and from a few feet away.

Drivers met the pastor at a “prayer stop,” where he wrote down concerns and names for the church’s “prayer warriors,” and then they pulled up to a table decorated with a sign that read “food for friends.”

Volunteers, including children, wore gloves and masks on the other side of the table.

When one visitor asked for meals to bring home and for a neighbor, a boy handed it to him through the driver’s side window.

“Hold on,” said Pungo’s Ron Stillman, who was volunteering. “We’ve got brownies for you.”

“If you don’t want them, I’ll take them,” joked John Stout, who was volunteering with his family.

Another volunteer, Daniel Shortt, said he liked being part of the community dinner.

“It’s a good opportunity to do this, to help people out,” Shortt said.

Marianna Boyer, a school nurse from Chesapeake who volunteered, said they had made about 160 meals for the community. The food had been for a monthly church supper – the indoor kind – but the coronavirus upended an awful lot of plans.

Oak Grove adapted and reached out.

“This was for everybody,” Boyer said.

Ray Hemsath, a member of Oak Grove Baptist Church from Landstown, accepts a meal during the drive-through dinner from one of the young people who volunteered for the event. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]
Volunteer Daniel Shortt and the Rev. Chuck Moseley greet a member of the community at a “prayer stop” during a drive-through dinner held Thursday, April 2, at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Creeds. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

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