As the people lined up for their breakfast this morning in an alley, Shades of Grace United Methodist Church quietly celebrated 10,000 meals served since the pandemic became a reality in Kingsport, Tennessee.
“We’ve never missed a single day of serving,” said the Rev. Will Shewey, even though COVID-19 forced Shades of Grace to completely change the way it does ministry, to prevent virus spread.
Instead of providing a hot meal from a full serving line inside the building, Shades of Grace immediately went to providing brown-bag meals in an alley behind its downtown building. The safety guidelines enforced by Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church also changed or suspended many of Shades of Grace’s high-contact ministries.
However, the meals have kept on coming, rain or shine, six days a week, for 40 to 100 people daily. Shades of Grace’s congregation members typically struggle with not only hunger but homelessness and addiction.
“The abundance of God sometimes strains our ability,” says Rex Hill, a full-time volunteer charged with keeping the food coming.
What he means is that Shades of Grace experiences a manna miracle nearly every day, when ministry leaders will make note of a particular need (size 13 shoes for a client, ball caps on a hot day, cookware for a new home), and a generous spirit will soon walk in the door with the perfect, needs-fulfilling donation. The stories are well documented on Pastor Will’s Facebook page.