With a Grateful Heart: Thanksgiving Snapshots of Service Inspire Movement
By Carl Stagner
Negative news isn’t hard to find these days. The headlines are disheartening, even surrounding the holidays. But there is a steady stream of good news trickling out of local Church of God congregations, where stories are being told online through words, pictures, and video. Social media posts published by Church of God congregations in the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving Day have inspired scrollers everywhere, reminding even the most calloused and jaded among us that God is still on the move.
New Cote Brilliante Church of God in St. Louis, Missouri, wasn’t waiting until the last full week of November to ensure that hungry bodies would be full come Thanksgiving. Early in the month, the church announced to the public that a “huge community food giveaway,” complete with everyday food and personal items, would take place in the parking lot on the 13th. Spearheaded by Pastors Miki and Carol Merritt, the event encourage everyone to attend and utilized COVID-safe processes to distribute items directly into vehicle trunks.
In partnership with the local Christian Women Connection, Community Church of God in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, hosted their annual Thanksgiving basket drive. Donors were challenged to collect turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cornbread, and all the traditional holiday fixings to bless their community. In a statement on the church’s Facebook page, the church’s rallying cry was, “Help us help our community!” In a display of partnership and generosity, the Florida congregation was able to accomplish their goal, all while communicating the love of Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving generosity certainly wasn’t limited this year to food baskets and turkeys, though. One example is the challenge several weeks ago by Clarksburg Church in Maryland. On the way to a goal of providing a Thanksgiving meal for 161 families, the Clarksburg congregation of the Church of God stepped up and found great joy in giving from their hearts. Making the collective effort even sweeter, the church chose to match any and every donation up to their goal, ultimately aiming to distribute grocery store gift cards to each family on their list.
At the other end of the country, one Arizona congregation celebrated Thanksgiving early through a variety of community service projects including, but not limited to, packing Thanksgiving supply boxes. Emphasizing the true nature of the church, Community of Hope in Maricopa declared that “the church has left the building.” Not only did they beautify a local recreation complex by installing more than a hundred plants, but they also served in a variety of other settings, through a variety of means, by placing an emphasis on being the church.
The examples are endless. Faith United Church of God in Grand Rapids, Michigan, committed to sponsoring five families from their local elementary school for Thanksgiving. Though the pandemic hindered the efforts of Elmore Church of God in Ohio, last year, this year they were back at it, offering their drive-through Thanksgiving Day meal service. In Casper, Wyoming, Highland Park Community Church’s senior adult ministry led the efforts to also provide Thanksgiving baskets for local families.
No doubt, the stories of other creative and inspiring acts of kindness this Thanksgiving will continue to be told. Do you know of a story of inspiration developing out of your home church? Let us know.
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Community of Hope (Maricopa, Arizona) packing Thanksgiving boxes this year.