The Fellowship Hall of Hope Presbyterian Church, now transformed into a Diaper Drive-In Warehouse.
Good News Stories:
Diaper Drive-In
The Synod of the Sun is publishing Good News Stories ahead of Synod Sunday in late August. These are inspirational stories of churches reaching out to their communities in extraordinary times via innovative means.
Our theme for Synod Sunday 2020: I Thessalonians 1:3 - (We) remember before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hope Presbyterian Church, Austin, TX (Mission Presbytery)
Diaper Drive-in Reaches Out Into the Community and is "a Balm For Our Souls"
by Matt Curry

Perhaps you have heard of diaper drives.
 
But have you ever heard of a diaper drive-in?
 
Hope Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas, has both.
 
A community need recently prompted the church to put out the call for members to drop off diaper donations each week at the church. Then, for two hours on Mondays, as many as 25 cars – some with multiple family members - drive through and pick them up without having to get out of their vehicles.
 
Reaching out during the global pandemic has not only blessed its neighbors but the church, as well. Since weekly worship is now online, church volunteers who have missed seeing one another on Sundays find joy in being together on Mondays – even if it is from 6 feet apart and behind masks.
 
“We feel like this has been a bit of a balm for our souls,” said Sally Cripe, a mission elder.
The crew at Hope Presbyterian Church: Jocelyn Stebbins (in front) takes the group selfie of (from L to R) - Sally Cripe, Pastor Josh Robinson, Nancy Bruno, Carol Wada, John Seamon, and Scott Seamon. All photos for this story were provided by Sally Cripe.
Hope, a 425-member congregation in north Austin, is among churches throughout the Synod of the Sun that are finding ways to make connections with their members and the people they serve despite challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak.
 
For servants looking for a way to serve, the stay-at-home order has been difficult, said the Rev. Josh Robinson, Hope’s pastor for more than six years.
 
Initially, church leaders offered to provide food donations to help their partner, Hill Country Community Ministries, a nonprofit coalition of churches that provides food, clothing and crisis assistance for people in need throughout southwest Williamson and northwest Travis counties.

Due to Covid19 restrictions, the agency had become unable to operate its food pantry at its headquarters, which was too small to maintain social distancing.
Hope, a member of Mission Presbytery, saw this as an opportunity to help, but learned that other partner churches had already taken on food distribution roles for the pantry. But soon HCCM asked Hope if it would be willing to be a diaper distribution point for the pantry’s clients instead.
“When we were hit with Covid19, our pantry went mobile with food, but we kept getting questions about the diapers,” said Tiesa Hollaway, executive director of HCCM. “People wanted to know where they could get diapers. The church became our distribution for our clients and anybody else who needed them.”
Hope quickly shifted its usual focus from collecting food for the pantry to gathering diaper supplies for babies and adults. The yellow box kept inside the church for food donations is rolled outside each day, allowing members to drop off the packages whenever it is convenient for them to do so. The fellowship hall, filled in more “normal” times with people, now looks like a warehouse for diapers.
“My father was a United States Marine,” Robinson said. “When I was younger and would face a challenge, Dad would say to me, ‘Son, you have to improvise, adapt and overcome.’ Truly that is the call of the Christian Church in this day.”
The effort is promoted in the church newsletter and on social media.
“It’s a great partnership, and it works very well,” Hollaway said. “If it wasn’t for our churches, we would have had to shut our doors. Our clients are very grateful.”
Church members are urged not to make an extra trip to the store to collect the diapers, but to grab them only if they are already out making other grocery pickups. The distribution, which includes donations from the Austin Diaper Bank, began April 27 and is scheduled to continue at least through June. No one is turned away.
“Our first week was kind of testing the waters, finding out what kind of demand there would be,” Cripe said.
It was slow going on that first Monday, but then flyers were put out at an area elementary school, and business picked up.
Church volunteers working outside use walkie-talkies to radio to workers in the fellowship hall the size of diapers needed, and they are brought out and placed in the car. The church also distributes fans.
“It’s been enriching to see the Holy Spirit at work within these Christians who are so eager to serve God and serve others,” Robinson said. “Our natural orientation is to give, and when we’re pointed in the right direction, the Holy Spirit unleashes a transforming power that is amazing to behold.”

 
The Rev. Matt Curry is search of Good News from ministries throughout the Synod of the Sun that are making connections with their congregations and their community. Do you have an idea to share? Call or text Matt at 817-929-4615, or send him an email at cpcwaxpastor@gmail.com .