Lunch Boxes of Love
by Chris Rudisill • QNotes • August 7, 2020
Rev. Vance Haywood welcomed congregants during a live streamed service on a Sunday. In a green chasuble, he spoke about the challenges of coming together during a pandemic and welcomed viewers even beyond North Carolina. “We’re in this work together,” he said before sitting quietly, hands crossed at a distance behind Rev. Paully Adams who delivered a sermon about reclaiming the power of prayer.
“Pastor Vance” or just “Vance,” as Haywood prefers, became the fifth pastor of St. John’s MCC in February 2018. He’s never been big on titles. The church, situated in the Southern Gateway of downtown Raleigh, began as a small group in 1976. Across the street, large historically-inspired homes are being built and three bus stops are just a short distance away along Maywood Ave.
As the coronavirus has shuttered shelters throughout Wake County, St. John’s has stepped up their services with their partners at the Love Wins Community Engagement Center. Their mission reads “using a mind, body and spirit approach, we provide day shelter, hot meals and peer support for people experiencing homelessness.” According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 970 people are without a place to sleep on any given night in Wake County. With rising unemployment and limited resources brought on by COVID-19, that number is expected to increase.