Churches plan Thanksgiving meals

Published 12:36 am Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dozens of volunteers are preparing to assist at three churches next week as they provide a Thanksgiving meal to those in need.

Christ Kingdom Ministries and First United Methodist Church in Brewton and Divine Temple in East Brewton will be providing free meals to those who may be alone for the holiday as well as those who are homebound or financially unable to create a feast for themselves.

At First United Methodist, this is the first year the church has decided to serve a Thanksgiving meal. Organizer Bentley Martin, who leads the church’s family ministry committee, said she felt led to the project.

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“My family and I have discussed this for years,” she said, noting they have even considered going out of town to serve Thanksgiving dinner at a soup kitchen.

“But we know there are people here who are in need,” she said. “I thought, why don’t we all do it as a church family.”

Close to 50 volunteers are prepared to help with the dinner, whether by decorating ahead of time, or cooking or serving on Thanksgiving day.

First Methodist, which also hosts a food pantry, has tried to get out the word to families who use that service as well as other places in the community. The dinner will be served to the first 200 people from noon to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Martin said she hopes the event will also bring more awareness to the needs of families year-round.

“With the economy the way it is, we know we have people in need,” she said.

Janet Byrd is leading the cooking brigade at Divine Temple in East Brewton who is in its fourth year of preparing the free holiday meal.

“I’d do this every day if I could,” Byrd said. “This is such a blessing and we are happy to provide for those who can be blessed by what we do.”

The East Brewton church will begin serving a traditional holiday meal at 11 a.m. at the East Brewton Civic Center. They are also branching out to provide meals at the Abundant Life Church in Century, Fla.

“It’s going to be a challenge to be in Century,” Byrd said. “But we thought it was just something we needed to do.”

With up to 25 turkeys being baked over the next several days, Divine Temple plans to feed up to 300 people for the noon meal Thursday.

“Last year we had between 250 and 300 meals served,” Byrd said. “We even took the leftovers to Home of Grace in Mobile. The 25 or so people there were able to enjoy a couple of meals on what we delivered.”

Betty Queen at Christ Kingdom Ministries said the food planned for Thursday’s feast is already being prepared.

“We have already cooked about 18 turkeys,” Queen said. “We want to have everything that you’d expect for a Thanksgiving meal.”

Queen said the church fellowship hall, located on Douglas Avenue, will be situated to allow diners to enjoy the meal indoors beginning at 11 a.m.. “Last year we had about 75 people to come to the fellowship hall for lunch,” Queen said. “We are opening that again this year for those who need a place to have Thanksgiving.”

Along with providing a meal at the church, Queen said those who are homebound can have a meal delivered to them for the holiday.

“We delivered about 25 meals to shut-ins last year,” Queen said. “We want to be able to deliver meals to those who can’t come down to the church this year, too.”

Queen said some advance notice for meal delivery would be nice and those calls can be made to the church office. “We’ll get an idea of how many people need meals delivered if they could call ahead,” Queen said. “We’ll make sure that we have someone to deliver those meals and still have people on hand at the church to serve those who come in.”

Christ Kingdom’s menu consists of turkey, dressing, collard and turnip greens, green beans, cranberry sauce and plenty of pumpkin and sweet potato pies and a variety of cakes.

“There are a lot of people around that don’t have family to share the holiday with,” Queen said. “We can be there for them with fellowship and a good meal. We wanted to do what we could to help those who don’t have the means or are too ill to prepare their own holiday meal. It’s our desire to meet the needs of the community and this is one way we can do that.”

Divine Temple and Christ Kingdom Ministries would be happy to have volunteers to help out or even donations to cover the cost of the food.

“We don’t ask folks to help us, we just believe that God will provide the help and the means,” Byrd said. “Anyone that would like to help can certainly show up and we’ll be happy to give them a job. All the work we do is worth what we get back. It’s worth every drop of sweat and every tear to see people who need fellowship and a meal be blessed by what we do. This is our opportunity to minister.”

Queen said donations and volunteers would also be a blessing for the work of the Christ Kingdom group.

“We have people who do this work from their heart,” Queen said. “Anyone who would like to volunteer to help serve or deliver meals is certainly welcome to come and help. This is a community event and we want the community to be involved. Got placed this desire in us to help and that’s what we plan to do.”

To contact Christ Kingdom Ministries to place a request for meal delivery, to make a donation or to find out how to volunteer, call 867-7000, ext. 27.