First Baptist volunteers prepare for Feast of Sharing

Published 9:05 am Monday, November 20, 2017

Guess how many are coming to dinner Thanksgiving at Elizabethton First Baptist Church?

“Hopefully, one thousand people,” said Lisa Bunn, who again this year is heading up the annual Feast of Sharing Community Thanksgiving Dinner. The dinner will be served Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Transportation and deliveries will be available by calling 543-1931.

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However, preparation for the dinner has been going on for several months.

“We at First Baptist believe Thanksgiving is a time to not only give thanks for blessings, but to share blessings,” said Bunn, who has been busy the last few weeks publicizing the event.

The meal, although free, is not a charity event. “It is for anyone who desires a meal. We will be delivering meals to many first responders who have to work — firemen, policemen, 911, pharmacy workers, etc. Also, students are invited to eat with us.”

The meal is a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with roast turkey, gravy, dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans, sweet potatoes, and rolls.

Bunn said 60 turkeys are being cooked by Food City of Elizabethton for this year’s meal. The rest of the meal is prepared and assembled at the church. The desserts are made at home by the ladies of the church.

In addition to the turkey, it takes gallons of green beans and gravy, pans and pans of dressing, a ton of sweet potatoes, and lots and lots of rolls and desserts.

A host of volunteers will assemble at the church Wednesday evening around 6 p.m. to begin preparing for the meal. “We will begin taking the meat off the bones, preparing the homemade dressing and other parts of the meal,” Bunn said.

“We will probably have 75 to 100 people helping, and this year we have some volunteers from Recovery Soldiers coming to help as well as a group from a Girls Home in Johnson City,” she shared.

“Items such as the green beans, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes are ordered in bulk and stored by Ted and Betty Tipton at the Captain’s Table until we need them. We will do a final grocery run Wednesday,” Bunn said.

A number of people do come in and eat, however, most of the meals are delivered. Transportation is available to those who would like to come to the church to eat.

This is the seventh year for the event. Nathan Goodwin, a deacon at the church, had the vision for the dinner and headed it up the first three years. Since then, Bunn has been heading up the event. “We have so many volunteers who work to make this dinner possible…our children, youth, Sunday School classes and teachers, and church leadership. We have been blessed by this event. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a wonderful time of fellowship,” Bunn said.

“Some of the people who eat with us are elderly and alone and enjoy the fellowship. Some are in need. Some are working and unable to be with family and friends for Thanksgiving dinner. We have to remember that needs are no respecter of persons. They come in all ages, sizes and shapes. This meal has been a blessing to so many, but mostly to us, who get to participate each year in preparing it,” Bunn added.

In addition to the Feast of Sharing, a coat closet will be available for those in need of a warm coat this winter. “Our church family donates the coats, which are available from infant sizes to adult sizes for both boys and girls and men and women. Lynn Richardson is heading up the coat closet,” Bunn said.

Why does Bunn and the people at First Baptist do the Thanksgiving feast? “Personally, it is what the Lord commanded. To go into the world, to share the love of Christ with others, to feed and to minister to people. It’s following Christ’s example. Right here in Carter County there are so many needs. There are hungry people, lonely people, people with spiritual needs, people who are broken and need encouragement. It is not enough to sit in a beautiful church building on Sunday. We must go into our community and share with others. That’s the Great Commission and I want to be a part of it. We need to live Thanksgiving every day,” Bunn shared.

Come Thursday it will be a busy morning for Feast of Sharing volunteers.