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 Barry David, pastor of Landmark Community Church in Hazel Park, said that the pandemic has taken a toll on his church, but Landmark continues to support the community with initiatives like the food distribution that has delivered millions of pounds of food in the last nine years.

Barry David, pastor of Landmark Community Church in Hazel Park, said that the pandemic has taken a toll on his church, but Landmark continues to support the community with initiatives like the food distribution that has delivered millions of pounds of food in the last nine years.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Hazel Park church maintains community service amid pandemic

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published July 1, 2020

 In a sign of the times, tape markings help maintain social distancing requirements at Landmark.

In a sign of the times, tape markings help maintain social distancing requirements at Landmark.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


HAZEL PARK — For nearly a decade, Landmark Community Church in Hazel Park has been the site of a major food distribution, held in partnership with Forgotten Harvest. Together, they have distributed more than 3 million pounds of food and counting. It’s an eye-popping figure, and while COVID-19 has complicated the church’s operations, Landmark plans to keep a good thing going.

“Landmark has provided a helpful service by hosting Forgotten Harvest to provide food for our community,” said Hazel Park City Manager Ed Klobucher.

The church is located at 24520 N. Chrysler Dr. The distributions take place there the second and fourth Thursday of each month, starting at 10 a.m. and running until the food runs out. There is no need to register or sign up, or to even get out of the vehicle — simply pull into the parking lot and wait in your vehicle in line, and a volunteer will ask how many are in your family, and then load up your vehicle with food. About 30-40 pounds are provided for each family. Food items include baked goods, cereal, milk, soft drinks, pork or chicken, and other diet staples.

It’s not limited to Hazel Park, either. People from neighboring communities are also welcome. One can call the church after 10 a.m. at (248) 545-8800 for more information.

“Landmark took a great risk when we started the food distribution program,” said Barry David, the pastor. “We did not have the resources — the people — necessary at hand. It was a step of faith to inaugurate the program, accomplished against the will of my board at the time.

“We started with 40 families the first distribution, and the Forgotten Harvest truck never showed up,” he said. “We rescheduled for the next day, the truck came in, and all 40 families showed up and applauded us! It was a rather shaky beginning of a fledgling endeavor.”

David said that he had never thought the food distribution program would experience the tremendous growth it has, not only in terms of the amount of food distributed, but also the number of people who have received. He said it’s been a privilege to meet these people and pray with them.

“The program has been running for nine years, and most of those years represent a slow economy and challenging times for the families in Hazel Park,” David said. “When we started with Forgotten Harvest, we were in difficult economic times, trusting that it would get better. The fact is, the economy trended to the downside year after year, and the program became far more important than we ever thought it would be.”

The pastor said that a significant number of families in Hazel Park are led by a single parent, which itself can lead to challenges in terms of basic necessities. Furthermore, the city has a sizable transient population that skews younger and could use assistance with meeting certain needs.

The program’s current record is serving 525 families in the span of several hours. David said he’s thankful that the church’s property is able to accommodate such numbers.

“I am proud of the Thursday Team headed up by Vanessa Minard, as they are the key to making the program work so smoothly,” David said. “Most of the team members currently have been with us for at least four years, and they love serving the Lord, as well as forming a team relationship with each other. Moreover, Vanessa has formed great relationships with the regular recipients over the years, and they look forward to seeing each other at every distribution.”

That being said, additional help is always appreciated. The church is looking for “good, dependable and service-minded individuals” to volunteer for the team. Those interested can call the church at (248) 545-8800 and leave a message for Vanessa Minard.

The church also continues to accept donations of canned goods for the emergency food pantry that assists those on non-distribution days. Call the same number, with extension 22, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, to arrange an appointment to deliver food to the church.

While the church continues to help feed the community, its core services have seen some disruption due to COVID-19, as have churches across the state.

“We just restarted our Sunday morning worship service and trust we can restart other ministries as soon as the government allows,” David said. He lamented how places of worship are not considered “essential,” despite helping to meet the spiritual needs of people during difficult times.

“People were designed by our creator to need fellowship with other people,” David said. “It is tragic when those needs are not met, especially by places of worship.”

The pastor said he has taken to social media to minister over the internet, but it has been challenging reaching people this way.

“We have taped our Sunday messages in front of an empty 2,000-seat auditorium and uploaded them on our Facebook page and YouTube. We have been calling our folks and trying to keep them informed of happenings at Landmark, and let them know they are being prayed for,” David said. “We are learning new communication skills during this time that will serve us in the future, so we look at the positive side of this issue.”

He said financial issues are the most difficult challenge for all churches during the pandemic.

“Since COVID has caused layoffs, business closures and other financial difficulties, Landmark and other worship centers are not receiving regular support levels, and this has put extreme pressure on our operating budgets. We are experiencing pay-less paydays, so that other more essential obligations can be paid,” David said.

“We are challenged with the same issues the people of Hazel Park are experiencing, and we identify with them and their needs. My regret is that we do not have the needed funds to maintain and expand our ministry support for folks that approach us on a regular basis,” he continued.

The cupola atop the church’s iconic steeple has also not been replaced. It was sheared off during a windstorm years ago.

“It is sorely missed,” David said. “Part of the cutback in support has caused us to delay the replacement of the cupola for some time to come. If anybody has some money to spare, we would love to talk with you relative to the replacement of the cupola.”

The pastor thanked the city of Hazel Park for its help with the distribution over the years, and he gave special thanks to Klobucher and his staff at City Hall.

“We do ministries such as the food distribution program to the glory of God. We are grateful he has given us the opportunity of being the hands and feet of Jesus in providing essential food to the people of Hazel Park and surrounding areas for over nine years,” David said. “To God be the glory — great things he has done.”