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Giving thanks will start with community banquet PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 10 November 2017 13:35


By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times



Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and along with the meals that will be served that day in homes across America, in Liberal, some local churches and organizations are providing additional meals for the festivities.

For the second year, Liberal Ministerial Alliance (LMA) will have a meal two days before Thanksgiving.

The alliance’s community meal will start at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 21 in the Seward County Activity Center. LMA’s Dr. Jack Jacob said there are some changes this year, but everyone who comes will be in for a treat from both the food and the entertainment.

“It will have a community choir with people from all the different churches singing together,” he said. “We’ll have some idea of the history of Thanksgiving, somebody talk about why we should be thankful. We’ll sing a song together. We’ll sing ‘Amazing Grace’ in English and in Spanish together to kind of show that unity.”

Members from various churches will likewise form a drama group at the event to tell a story of coming home. Following this, Emmanuel Southern Baptist Pastor Erin Rush will provide a message of about 15 minutes, followed by an invitation and offering. Jacob said this is the one time of year LMA takes up an offering for the alliance.

Following all of the festivities, the meal will start around 7:30 p.m., with churches providing different parts of the meal, including turkeys provided by Jacob’s church, First Southern Baptist.

“It’ll all be brought in,” he said. “The Hispanic churches will bring their traditional dishes from the areas that they’re from, Mexico or Guatemala. It’s kind of a neat time to get together and have that service together, talk about Thanksgiving, kind of tear down some of those traditional barriers that we have between each others and eat a good meal together.”

The alliance’s Thanksgiving meal was birthed from a community service LMA hosted as primarily a preaching service, with finger foods served following the program. This is the second year for the meal.

“The reason we changed it from the way we used to do it to this way is it creates an opportunity for people to invite their unsaved friends,” Jacob said. “It gives them a chance to hear the gospel. An invitation is given.”

Jacob said the date for the meal allows more people from more churches and the community as a whole to be involved.

“By having it on a weeknight outside of a regular church night and having it at the Activity Center instead of at a church and having the big meal, we felt like that was a great opportunity to both to help seniors who maybe won’t have family with them for the holidays, international students at the college and others who could just benefit from a good hot meal,” he said. “We want to give them the gospel as well as the meal.”

Jacob estimated the biggest turnout for the Thanksgiving services was about 175 people. In the meal’s first year, around 600 entered the doors of the Activity Center, with around 700 to 750 expected for this year.

Along with the simple continuation of the meal, Jacob said he would like to see the growth continue in terms of both churches and people..

“We want to see it continue to provide the gospel as well,” he said. “We feel like we can give somebody a meal, they go home. Tomorrow, they’re going to be hungry again. We give them Jesus. They’re going to wake up tomorrow, and they’re okay forever. We’d like to see it continue to grow, like to see it continue to get better.”

Jacob said the first edition of the Thanksgiving meal likewise brought with it some lessons learned, and those lessons are paving the way for improvements in the event.

“Last year, we had a problem with the sound system,” he said. “You couldn’t hardly hear. The program was way too long. It lasted about an hour and 45 minutes. It was 9 o’clock before people got to eat, and they were grumbling. People were talking during the drama and the preaching because they couldn’t hear anyway.”

Jacob said all of those issues are being addressed.

“We have a brand new sound system that we’ve put together amongst the churches and the Ministerial Alliance,” he said. “We’ve shortened up the program. We’ve put less elements in it, but involved of the traditional preaching part from the old way we did it with the drama part and the new way we’re do it.”

Jacob said people from many of Liberal’s churches are involved, but churches from other area towns like Laverne, Okla., and Guymon, Okla., come to the meal as well. He said the meal can also be used as a great tool to witness to others about Christianity.

“Last year, we had about 20 people that responded to the invitation,” he said. “We felt like that was pretty good. It’s really more along the lines of getting back to the original reason that we had Thanksgiving. If you go back to Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation, it was a day of solemn prayer and thanksgiving. It was a day to look and remember that God is the source of all that we have. We kind of feel like doing it this way with the service and the gospel is remembering what God has done for us so that we can, on Thanksgiving, not just make it about football and turkey, but actually make it about thanking God.”

Everything that is offered the night of the Thanksgiving meal is free of charge.

“We do take up an offering, but that’s a free will offering,” Jacob said. “None of that goes to cover food. All the churches provide that food. It all goes to the Ministerial Alliance’s services we offer, which is the transient ministry, giving out bibles to the seniors at high school, supporting Christian movies or concerts or whatever comes to the area and helping some of the local ministries.”

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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