By Carl Stagner
To the Church of God, Thanksgiving is more than turkey, football, and forgetting that Black Friday used to be on Friday. Many Church of God congregations reach out into their communities in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, and even on the day itself. Merely thinking about how thankful they are just isn’t enough for these churches. They know they’ve been blessed and they must respond by blessing others.
Thanksgiving began early for Bedford First Church of God in Bedford, Indiana. On November 1, they held their annual community-wide clothing giveaway (highlights video above). Instead of holding the event at their church, they went outside their four walls to the local U.A.W. Instead of waiting until the cold weather settled in, they made sure the poor and needy in their city were prepared. “There’s no better feeling than to put a smile on someone’s face when they need it the most,” one volunteer reflects. Trent Freed, associate pastor, adds, “God is preparing our congregation to great things in his name, and we are blessed to be a part of what he is doing among us.”
This is the second year that Crosspointe Fellowship Church has packed food boxes for needy families in their community of Kilgore, Texas. After partnering with the school district, they compiled a list of families beyond their fellowship who could use a helping hand for the holidays. On the second Sunday before Thanksgiving, the church gathered to pack the food boxes as part of their morning worship. Instead of doing all the work for these families, Crosspointe actually empowers parents by giving them the opportunity to prepare for their children the meal provided. “He has called us to be the church in action,” Pastor Efrain Cirilo explains. “It’s simply part of our mission.” And their mission, which extends far beyond their Texas town, also led them to collect shoes for orphans around the world this year.
While some are busy enjoying the bountiful blessings of Thanksgiving Day, StoneBridge Church of God will be hard at work preparing and serving a meal to their community of Findlay, Ohio. When the church began their annual outreach years ago with just a few hundred guests, they probably never guessed they’d feed 1,600 people last year. The church also delivers meals and allows carryout. This year they expect to prepare forty turkeys, sixteen hams, one hundred eighty pies and cakes, and more. “With the holidays being so tough for people who have lost a loved one, are going through difficult times, or do not have family near them, we thought we could be a blessing to so many,” Nate Hultz, missions pastor of StoneBridge explains. Indeed, the numerous volunteers that are required to pull off a major outreach on Thanksgiving Day do have to give up some of that turkey coma naptime, but it’s all worth it. “It’s truly one of the most exciting days of the year for everyone in the church.”
Learn more about the Church of God at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.