After years of fundraising for mission trips to areas of devastation and need in nearby states, we found ourselves in the midst of a pandemic and “grounded”. We prayed that the Holy Spirit might give us new direction, and in May, Holy Hot Dogs was born. We found ourselves staying home and ministering in new ways to our very own community of East Berlin!
Trinity already hosted a monthly food pantry in partnership with New Hope Ministries on the first Wednesday of each month. So weekly, on subsequent Wednesdays, we grilled 250 hot dogs in the parking lot. With masks and social distancing; we distributed bagged meals through car windows to folks in the community as they drove by. The free hot dog meals were advertised each week on the town square message board for all to see, no pre-registration required. We began serving at 5PM and continued until the hot dogs were gone.
What we learned in those 4 months was that this Holy Hot Dog Food Distribution not only fed bellies but quite often fed souls – in so many ways – not the least of which being joy in reacquainting with neighbors and making new friends. This ministry, through a car window rolled down for a bag filled with hot dogs in a bun, chips and applesauce became the talk of the town. All of a sudden, we were being the church outside the church walls, Limiting volunteer teams to 10 became a challenge – who knew that Holy Hot Dogs would be so much fun?
So after several thousand hot dog meals were served, we decided the community needed a break from hot dogs. No disrespect to America’s ballpark frank, but a change of menu was in order! We again prayed about a new direction, applied for a Hunger Grant from the Lower Susquehanna Synod, and began serving pizzas in the parking lot. Thanks to the Hunger Grant and local pizza partners (Jim and Nena’s East Berlin, Little Italy Hampton, Rocco’s East Berlin and Rocco’s York Springs), we served pizza meals to about 150 families in November 2020.
We carefully monitored COVID numbers, and felt the need to take a break from Pizza in the Parking Lot at the end of November. As spring 2021 unfolds, we feel it is safer to resume our outside food distribution, again masked and socially distanced. We will serve 50 boxed pizza meals, with applesauce and bottled water, to families who drive by Trinity’s rear entrance at 5PM each Wednesday – 4/14, 4/21 and 4/28.- until the pizza is gone.
It’s been fun, and the community has been appreciative and supportive; quite unexpectedly, area individuals and businesses came by to offer financial contributions. The original intent of Holy Hot Dogs, then Pizza in the Parking Lot, was to offer an alternative meal to families struggling through a pandemic. And of course, with the help of God, we were able to do that. But most significant is that the Holy Spirit has led us to be part of something bigger. We find that being the church outside its walls allows the lights at Trinity to shine a bit brighter. It’s our prayer that as folks develop a relationship.with Trinity, they might spark or rekindle a personal relationship with God our Saviour. It all started with a few hot dogs – Holy Hot Dogs, for sure!