Beyond Turkey: Generosity, Servanthood Signal Thanksgiving for the Church of God
By Carl Stagner
For the Church of God, Thanksgiving is more than turkey, all the trimmings, football, and even festive family gatherings. Thanksgiving is a state of mind, a posture of the heart, and a readiness of the hands and feet for service to others. Each Thanksgiving season, Church of God congregations across the United States (and in Canada on October 9) reach out into their communities, 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.
The men’s group known as “Band of Brothers” from New Beginnings Church of God in Albuquerque, New Mexico, assembled more than a hundred Thanksgiving food baskets to bless families facing a variety of challenges this year. The Church of God of Cleveland (Ohio) prepared over sixty Thanksgiving meals and served them directly to shut-ins, seniors, and their families. Skyrocket Church, a relatively new congregation in Prescott, Washington, hosted a Thanksgiving food distribution event for which “no food card, appointment, or documentation [was] needed.” Chestnut Ridge Church of God in Hubbard, Ohio, hosted a dinner onsite for their community, complete with all the familiar holiday dishes.
Setting up tables, peeling potatoes, hanging decorations, waiting on guests, and washing dishes certainly required a lot of elbow grease for these congregations. Other churches especially exercised their creativity muscle.
Impact Church in Beaumont, Texas, held a “Turkey Bowl,” featuring football fun for all ages. Olympia Lacey Church of God in Washington State opted for a “Friendsgiving” celebration and meal, offering a unique spin on the traditional experience. Community Church Atlanta pulled out all the stops for a ceremonious, formal Night of Thanksgiving to fellowship and celebrate the ongoing legacy of their congregation, embracing the collective work of their ministry (they’re also partnering to provide a free lunch on Thanksgiving Day, too). Elmore Church of God continues their Thanksgiving Day tradition of serving meals to drive-through customers, shining the light of Christ throughout. Friendly Street Church of God in Eugene, Oregon, also went “all in” for Thanksgiving outreach, determining to sacrifice time on their holiday to offer their neighbors a free dinner.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” —1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 NIV
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Band of Brothers (New Beginnings Albuquerque) packing food for distribution.