Devlin Scott and his wife Katie moved to Newton four years ago from Chicago to “plant” what was to become the NewCity Church. As a new arrival, he walked the 13 villages of his new city, learning about the needs of the community and thinking about how his growing congregation could help. “I spent a lot of time getting to know the city and the people,” he says of his early days. One of the resources he discovered was the Newton Food Pantry. “I learned about the Food Pantry, and we’ve been getting involved there, helping with food drives and Wednesday distributions.”
When the COVID-19 crisis hit, the scope and scale of the need changed. Devlin immediately recognized the impact that the pandemic would have on food insecurity, especially among people of color and our immigrant community. With a deep understanding of the complicated relationship between personal dignity and the need to seek help, Devlin saw a gap that he could fill. “When you hit a point in your life where you experience food insecurity, it zaps your dignity,” he says. “Of course you’re grateful for the help, and thankful to live in a caring community. At the same time, the visual of white people ‘serving’ brown people and immigrants is deeply uncomfortable. It reinforces the notion that Caucasians are the ones ‘with’ and minorities are the ones ‘without’.” NFP’s recruitment of BIPOC volunteers was one answer to this problem. “When you go for help and see people who look like you, it removes all that baggage and we are just people helping people.”
As Devlin and his congregation become increasingly involved with the Newton Food Pantry, he sees many opportunities for collaboration. “I would like to see the Pantry and our efforts continue toward the same goals. It’s important to provide people with the food they need, but it’s just as important to offer them the dignity they deserve.” For the moment, Devlin is most excited about his next big project, developing the Vault space in Newton Highlands, which his church took over after COVID social distancing requirements displaced them from their previous meeting space. “We needed to find a new place to meet, but we also wanted to be able to give it back to the community on the other 6 days of the week,” he explains. “We have a vision to open a ‘pay what you can’ cafe that the whole city can use. If people of all different income levels can sit down and share a meal, they can have a conversation, see each other as people.” NewCity is currently planning a capital campaign to fund this new community space.
Devlin and Katie live in Newton with their two sons, Iain and Aldin, and their two cute dogs.