Churches celebrate thankfulness by giving

by Sharon Mager
While in the midst of a global pandemic, Maryland/Delaware churches are selflessly loving their neighbors this Thanksgiving season, serving those who are struggling to get by, those without a home, and seniors who will be alone. Below is just a sample of what some churches are doing this year. Many other churches are serving their communities — from the Delmarva shores to the Allegheny Mountains of Western Maryland. 

Fire and Light Community Church, in Reisterstown, Maryland, which averaged between 20-25 regular attendees prior to COVID-19 restrictions, prepared meals for 35 people for Thanksgiving. A friend of the church is a chef and steps up to help every holiday, providing and preparing hams and turkeys.

Church members Shannon Ament and Amy Swan (wife of Mark Swan), pack Thanksgiving food for the community (Facebook photo, used with permission).

The church identified recipients through word of mouth, friends, relatives and neighbors of church members, and those watching on the church’s Sunday Facebook Live posts. A family who is new to the church requested a meal. A former co-worker of Amy Swan, Pastor Mark Swan’s wife, began watching the services online and started commenting on the Facebook page, sharing how much he enjoyed the services and even began giving. When Mark offered food to those who needed help for Thanksgiving, the man responded, and Mark discovered that a member of the family is seriously ill. The church was thrilled to be able to provide the food and to have an opportunity to minister to this family.

They also provided several meals for the family of a young man in his 20s who has been attending the church. Mark hopes the food will demonstrate God’s love and show this family that the church cares for them.

Mark said he is thrilled that his small church has been able to serve so many, especially during a global pandemic!

The Church of the Harbor in Essex, Maryland, is celebrating Thanksgiving a little differently than usual. Pastor Jeff Belcher said the church usually has a turkey-and-fixings meal the Sunday before Thanksgiving — an opportunity to fellowship and invite family and friends — but due to COVID-19, that wasn’t going to happen. So church volunteers prepared food and send meals home.

They also provided meals to those in the church who need assistance and to folks in the area who are currently without a residence. The church partnered with Jimmy’s Seafood in Baltimore. The restaurant donated a number of “Thanksgiving Feasts” which the church distributed.

A neighbor stopped by to pick up a turkey and fixings from the Transformation Center in Brooklyn and transported the food home on her bicycle (Facebook photo, used with permission).

At the Transformation Center in Brooklyn, Maryland, a ministry of Streetlite Christian Fellowship in Baltimore, volunteers packed and distributed Thanksgiving dinner supplies to over 450 families.

Transformation Center Director Mallory Zimmerman said Harvest of Hope is an annual ministry. “This is the sixth year at the Transformation Center, but we’ve been doing the event for over 14 years at Streetlite,” she added. “Everyone gets a turkey, pie, and seven side items to prepare in their home. We do it this way to allow families the dignity to prepare their own Thanksgiving with their families.”

Barnesville Baptist Church in Maryland, bought hams and fixings from a local market and delivered the meals to about 20 seniors in their congregation. Pastor Danny Moore said many seniors would be alone for Thanksgiving. “With COVID-19, it’s much worse,” said Moore.

Cindy Moore, (wife of Danny Moore) delivered food to church member Ralph Cooley (Facebook photo, used with permission).

A local store partnered with the church and provided significantly reduced prices for the ministry.

Second Baptist Church in Cumberland, Maryland, will have a short Thanksgiving service tonight on Facebook Live. Interim pastor Kenny Heath asked for folks to share online about what they’re thankful for, including perhaps a Bible verse that has inspired them over the past year. People can share their posts ahead of time or during the live service. Heath will share and discuss them during the service.

Clinton Baptist Church in Maryland, partnered with the non-profit organization, “Project Give Back,” to pack over 500 boxes of food for those in need for Thanksgiving. Volunteers began arriving at 5 a.m. on November 21. Teams of about 30 worked outside, preparing boxes for trucks to distribute food in Baltimore and throughout Maryland, as well as Washington D.C.

We’re on the lookout for your Christmas stories (and more)! Tell us what you’re planning, what you’ve done, and how God is moving in the midst of your congregations. The happenings in your churches are His story! And they serve as an inspiration to other churches, allowing them to celebrate with and pray for you. Send your information for consideration, along with a photo, if possible, to Sharon Mager.

Cover photo: Members of Christian Liberty Church in Baltimore gave away over 150  turkeys and the fixings at Frederick Douglass High school on Sunday. Pastor Wayne Lee preached an outdoor service. Rather than the usual fellowship, volunteers made deliveries to waiting cars, and those who walked waited to receive their food in a socially-distanced line. Lee said the church had sufficient food for all who attended, and several opportunities for Gospel conversations and prayer. (Facebook photo, used with permission).