Pastor Continues Family Legacy and Feeds Neighborhoods
District Executive Minister, Converge MidAtlantic
Culture & society
What happens when there is a food shortage in your community, and families don’t have enough to eat? Neighborhoods where residents don’t have access to affordable, healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are known as food deserts. The problem was made worse this year by the pandemic. Pastor Stan Byrd leads Kingdom Harvest Church, located near the food-desert neighborhoods of South Raleigh, NC. The health crisis forced the church to conduct its worship services online. Yet Pastor Byrd kept his congregation connected by serving the community. They built partnerships to provide food for families and even helped open a grocery store that supports local farmers.
Pastor Byrd learned about serving his neighbors at a young age. His father owned a vegetable truck. He collected fruit and vegetables from local farmers and sold them door to door in neighborhoods and businesses. Sometimes he would give away vegetables to families so that everyone had enough. This made an impression on Pastor Byrd and his siblings.
Now Rev. Byrd is the pastor of Kingdom Harvest Church in Raleigh, NC, and the congregation is known for its generosity. They developed a close relationship with an elementary school in Garner County. Every August, the church collects school supplies for students from low income families. While doing this, Pastor Byrd learned that the school also provides meals for the children. There is a special need on the weekends, so the school created a program called Backpack Buddies. They stuff backpacks full of food for the children on Fridays, so the kids have enough to eat for the weekend. Kingdom Harvest Church regularly takes an offering to provide funding for the Backpack Buddies program.
Since the schools have been online only due to the pandemic, the students and their families go to a food bank at the local YMCA for their weekly groceries. Church members from Kingdom Harvest Church are now donating to the YMCA program instead. They still collected school supplies and delivered them to the school. In addition, church members wrote notes and collected gift cards to encourage the teachers.
The need for healthy food continues to be a problem in the neighborhoods of South Raleigh. Many grocery stores have closed over the years, and the residents do not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Pastor Byrd’s younger brother Demetrius has carried on the legacy of their father’s vegetable truck. He opened a grocery store called the Black Farmers Hub in South Raleigh in August. The store features fresh produce from local African American farmers, and it is providing heathy food and jobs in the community.
Although the pandemic has changed life in many ways, Converge MidAtlantic churches continue to generously serve their communities. Pastor Byrd found that providing healthy food and school supplies for needy families was a way for his congregation to stay connected. Even though Kingdom Harvest Church is worshiping online only, the congregation is working together to love their neighbors.
Brian Weber, District Executive Minister, Converge MidAtlantic
Brian served as a pastor in the Converge MidAtlantic district for more than 15 years. Originally from the Philadelphia area, he mobilized efforts to start new churches in the Greater Delaware Valley and to send missionaries around the world. Brian is a graduate of Wheaton College and earned his Master of Divinity degree at Bethel Seminary of the East. Before his appointment as district executive minister in 2018, Brian worked for three years with Compassion International.