© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Good News: Despite its own problems, Jennings church keeps on feeding the hungry

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 26, 2010 - A church is the people, not the building, says the pastor of the Good News Baptist Church in Jennings, and so when the roof fell in two Saturdays ago, the people gathered the next morning in an adjoining building for Sunday worship.

Then, as the workweek began, the people picked up their mission and went about feeding the hungry of the neighborhood just as they always do.

Food collection and distribution went on as scheduled last week. And on Tuesday -- even as a construction crew arrived to begin the arduous task of rebuilding the crushed sanctuary -- the church's people were outside on the parking lot in the steamy heat distributing vegetables and dairy products delivered by the St. Louis Area Food Bank.

"We've still got to feed God's people," said Deacon Arstell Jones who helps coordinate the church's food pantry ministry. He estimated that about 100 people were served on Tuesday alone.

The roof collapse on May 15 left the sanctuary in a sorry state with pews and pulpit buried under busted beams and a thick layer of roofing material and debris. Half of its ceiling is now open to the sky.

The good news for this church with that name: No one was injured because no one was in the sanctuary at 10 a.m. on that Saturday morning, and the church's insurance will pay for repairs.

"We're still able to serve the community. The Lord is still looking over us," said Pastor Byron Crawford, who was with a group of his flock in the kitchen of the fellowship building when the doors slammed shut, air swooshing through the building as the roof fell in next door.

The weight of recent rainwater was apparently too much for the church's flat roof, Crawford said. About 125 people usually attend Sunday morning services, and the accident could have been catastrophic.

"Thanks be to God that he didn't let it happen that way," Crawford said.

Although he is saddened by the loss of his sanctuary, the pastor believes it was all part of God's plan for the church to rebuild bigger and better.

"We know it was a blessing," Crawford said. "We walk by truth, not by sight."

While the sanctuary is being rebuilt, services and business affairs are being moved to makeshift rooms next door. Crawford said the church would be thankful for donations of chairs and office equipment. Monetary donations will be used to replace items not covered by insurance.

The address: Good News Baptist Church, New Building Fund, 8850 Jennings Station Road, Jennings, MO 63136. Phone: 314-868-3312. Email: goodnewsbaptist@sbcglobal.net.

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined the St. Louis Beacon staff in April 2008 after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.