Pastor Reshorna Fitzpatrick and her husband, Bishop Derrick Fitzpatrick, are used to public service, having spent the past two decades leading Stone Temple Missionary Baptist Church on Chicago’s West Side. But their efforts intensified this year as the couple transformed their church into a hub of community outreach: a food bank, a distributor of cleaning supplies, a stage for self-expression and more.
In April, with members of their congregation and neighborhood among the millions of Americans out of work, the couple began giving out roughly 300 food boxes a week to those in need. Produce from the church’s community garden also filled the “love fridge,” an outdoor refrigerator near the church stocked with free food. When funds for their food-box initiative ran out, they partnered with the Urban Growers Collective, a local Black- and women-led nonprofit farm, to source fresh produce. The Fitzpatricks also launched a “Soup for the Soul” program, where community members can pick up hot soup made by local chefs every Monday. “I really do believe that we are our brother’s keeper,” Reshorna says.
The church has also provided the local community with at least 20,000 masks, as well as hand sanitizer and other supplies. This summer, the Fitzpatricks hosted socially distanced outdoor services, and in the fall built an outdoor stage where members of the community put on performances and share stories. “People are more easily able to talk about the need,” Derrick says of the pandemic’s impact on long disenfranchised community members. The Fitzpatricks know it’s been a difficult year, but say they feel more connected than ever. “I live to make sure that people are blessed,” says Reshorna.