You’re invited to Thanksgiving dinner Thursday at First Baptist Church

Published 10:27 am Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving at First Baptist Church, Elizabethton, is a special time of the year — but also a busy time. “It’s a time to not only give thanks for our blessings, but also to share our blessings,” said Lisa Bunn, who heads up the annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner at the church.

“Our Feast of Sharing will take place Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The dinner consists of turkey and all the trimmings and is open and free to anyone in the community, who has a need, or simply wants to share this holiday with others in the community,” said Bunn.

Bunn said they are anticipating 1,200 to 1,300 people this year. “We especially want to reach out to shut-ins, the elderly, students who cannot get home for the holidays. We have put posters up advertising the dinner at laundromats, on apartment bulletin boards, such as Courtyard Apts. and Village East Apts. We will do a lot of deliveries, but our hope is to have more people eat in,” she shared.

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

This year, the dinner will require 60 turkeys, which are cooked by Food City of Elizabethton. The rest of the meal is prepared and assembled at the church. “The desserts are made by the ladies of the church,” Bunn shared.

Teresa Calhoun of the Captain’s Table orders the rolls, beans, and sweet potatoes for the dinner.

“It takes a massive amount of work, organization, and people to pull a dinner of this size off, and, gratefully we have a number of people who help,” Bunn said.

Preparation for the dinner will begin around 5 p.m. Wednesday, when the turkeys are delivered to the church. “We work in shifts, and our people will work until about 10 p.m., pulling the meat off the bones, and making dressing. They will clean up for the night and return about 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day when they will finish the dinner,” Bunn explained.

This year, in addition to the dinner, there will be a coat closet complete with gloves, hats, scarves and socks. Also, there will be a large number of backpacks, the church family will be giving away.

“All of this, especially juggling and managing the kitchen, is a lot of work, and Roger Franklin does that every year for us. We will have as many as 50 people in the kitchen at one time. The youth minister has the children involved. They make cards for the backpacks. Also, the youth department helps with the deliveries on Thursday morning. It’s a church-wide ministry and takes a lot of work, but in return, we are blessed tremendously,” Bunn said.

The dinners are served at the church and also delivered to those who are unable to come to the church. Volunteers will also drive to the diner’s home to transport them to the church and back if they so desire. “We don’t want anyone to have to eat dinner alone,” said Bunn.

Also, meals will be delivered to some people working that day, such as firemen, policemen, and the Rescue Squad.

“We usually have about 100 volunteers altogether. Some work on Thursday morning, others work on Wednesday evening. Most of the volunteers will be finished in plenty of time to enjoy their own Thanksgiving dinner with their own family in the afternoon,” Bunn said.

“We feel blessed to be able to provide this meal. Our church family has been so blessed and we want to share our blessings with others. It’s as simple as that. In fact, we feel we get a larger blessing by preparing and giving this Thanksgiving meal than the people who receive it,” Bunn said.

Why does the church 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’s 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 each day. My prayer is that the Lord will open our eyes to see the needs around us, that we as a church and individuals can minister and meet people where they are,” Bunn shared.

Bunn said her prayer and hope is that more people will come to the church for the dinner. “We want people to feel comfortable when they come inside the church doors. After all, we’re real people just like them,” she said.

“My prayer is when there is someone in our community who needs help, they will know there’s a church that cares and has a big heart and wants to help,” Bunn said.