Photographic Essay - A Pilgrim on the Common - Food Ministry

From a van ride with the Pilgrim Church downtown to the Boston Common to witness and document the story of the church's food ministry came a desire to document the story and the journey for a much wider audience.  The van ride was November 27, 2010.  The photographic essay, "A Pilgrim on the Common," was published almost a year later, August 10, 2011. 

You can read the book fully online (for free).  Consider purchasing a copy.  All profits (approx $5) go to the Pilgrim Church.

Browse: "A Pilgrim on the Common" at

Pilgrim Church Food Ministry on the Boston Common
Serving on the Boston Common

Every Saturday (come rain or shine or holiday time), cooks gather downstairs in the Pilgrim Church's kitchen at 7am to begin preparing food for two Saturday food ministry events, come rain or come shine.

Within the hour, more volunteers arrive, pack up the hot food and drink, sandwiches and snacks.  Into the church's van they go for a trip downtown.  The volunteers know that the homeless and the hungry have already started gathering close to Park Street on the Boston Common.  The people on the Common also know to await the arrival of the church's van at 9am. Unpack the van and setup to serve food, take prayer requests and distribute clothing. 

This is the food ministry saga that Upham Arts wanted to capture in traveling with The Pilgrim Church volunteers on November 27, 2010.

Unwanted Reporter?

Traveling as a photographer and story teller is fraught with travails and difficulties under the most benign of circumstances but a story about feeding the homeless?  Photographing people waiting in line for food?

What emotions and possible anger could you expect under these circumstances?   The people waiting in line expressed a range of emotion from anger to indifference to genuine friendliness and excitement.  Some people covered their faces to hide from the camera.  Others didn't seem to mind - just another day on the Boston Common. 

"May I take your picture?" 
For those distrustful and angry souls, the dismay, annoyance and pain so openly expressed was hard to ignore, as if the photographer were causing their pain.  Yet, many people in line were smiling and excited and couldn't wait to be photographed.  Some even took the time to pose, review the photo and pose again to get the right shot.

Read Story:  Food on the Common - Pilgrim Church Volunteers Distribute Food to the Hungry

End of story, right?

Journalist, Nancy Conrad, couldn't let that story go.  Something about the experience remained vibrant. 

Out of this love grew the idea to publish a print-on-demand book telling the story primarily through photos. A Pilgrim on the Common provides such a service.  As of early 2011, their software downloaded to your PC and provided a relatively simple interface for creating a book. 

Rev. John Odams, pastor at Pilgrim, was willing to share more about the church's ministries to the community and relationships with other churches and this provided additional content for the book.  

Rev. John spoke highly of youth pastor, Joel Daniel Harris, from the Canton, Ohio area who has been bringing teens to Dorchester to help create and maintain the flower garden - not the flowers per se, but the garden structure itself.

The story of feeding the homeless and the hungry grew into a publication which was so much more than the one van ride to the Boston Common. Completing the book on August 10, 2011 brought a great sense of pride. You are invited you to browse the book online - fully readable.

And if you feel so moved, you are also welcome to order the book. The full profit (about $5 per book) will be donated to Pilgrim Church. Browse: "A Pilgrim on the Common"

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Posted: May 05, 2014    Nancy J Conrad