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Nazarene church serves hundreds at annual dinner

Nov. 25, 2012 @ 06:53 PM

With the season of Thanksgiving in full force, churches in Putnam County have been busy “Feeding His Sheep” as the Lord commanded in the Gospel of John. One in particular, Teays Valley Church of the Nazarene, not only fed those in the community last Sunday evening, but also operated a clothing giveaway at the same time.

Pastor Charles Williams said people began arriving an hour early for the event, which was not supposed to start until 6 p.m. Church members served at least 360 people, with 300 coming to the fellowship hall itself to eat dinner. In addition, 20 dinners were delivered to the CAMC Teays Valley Hospital emergency room staff, and about 40 dinners were delivered to shut-ins, and others who could not make it to the church. The food was offered as a gift to the community, with anyone given a dinner regardless of need.

According to Charles V. “Sonny” Williams, the dinner gets bigger every November.

“It keeps growing every year. It is a blessing to serve and connect with people in our community,” he said.

Food was supplied by church members who signed a sheet two weeks earlier agreeing to bring 10 turkeys, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, green beans, baked beans, corn, cranberry salad, potato salad, dinner rolls, and a variety of desserts. The food, especially the turkey, went quickly. By about 7 p.m., the turkey was gone. Just as the pans of turkey emptied, however, an 11th turkey was brought in the door. For Ivin Lee, church member and overseer of the dinner along with Karen Perry, “this was sort of a God thing.”

“We had not expected that turkey,” Lee said. “What a God we serve — He’s good,” she added.

The church fellowship hall, which was decorated with holiday banners and fall flowers, has offered the dinner for the last seven years to everyone in the community. While the families were finishing their meals, others looked through the clothing offered from the Clothing Closet. One group of young girls found prom dresses to try on. The Clothing Closet, another ministry of the church, is operated by Kim and Anna Pennington, and is open once a month, usually on a Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to noon. The clothing is free.

By 8 p.m., the last of the turkey was gone and the cleanup began. Although most food had been eaten or put in plates to go, Lee said two young boys came up and one asked for dinner to take to his mother, who was sick.

“We scraped together what we had — we had a whole pumpkin pie left. I gave it to him to take to his mother,” Lee said. It had been a good evening.

Lee appreciates this church where she has been a member for three years.

“I love our church. We are a sharing church. I call it ‘the friendly church.’ It doesn’t matter what denomination you come from, who you are — we welcome you,” Lee said. She also likes that people could have both dinner and clothing if they needed them.

“God intends for us to help our fellow man. In our church we are our brother’s keeper. We can’t do that half way. We can’t have a Thanksgiving meal and not share it with our community,” Lee said.

Teays Valley Church of the Nazarene is a community-minded church. Recently they opened the building to the Salvation Army to take orders for Christmas for Putnam County.

On Dec. 1, at 6 p.m., the church will present “Christmas in the Valley,” their 5th annual night of music for the community. The Vandalia Men’s Choir and “Arts in Action” are two of the acts who will be performing.

In addition, on Dec. 16, the church will present “Toyland,” the annual toy giveaway where families may bring their children for gifts and refreshments. Everyone is welcome to bring their children regardless of their financial situation.