Thanksgiving gathering at Covington First UMC nets $667 for United Methodist Committee on Relief


Thanksgiving gathering at Covington First United Methodist Church provided food and entertainment and raised money for United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Submitted photos.

By Rev. Dan Camp, Covington First United Methodist Church, Covington, TN

The Covington First United Methodist Church family celebrated Thanksgiving in what has become a new tradition. For the second year, the entire congregation gathered to share a traditional Thanksgiving meal and spend time cultivating relationships with one another, while also raising $667.70 for United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
Recognizing that that many in our community are not able to spend the holiday with their families (due to distance, travel costs or other reasons), the leadership of this congregation intentionally assigned a higher priority to the value of Christian table fellowship. These occasions are also being utilized to—very purposefully—invite persons who are new to the community or may not currently have a church home. Attention is given to invite any who may be in need to share in this meal. A number of guests were present who wandered in off the streets to see what was happening. That couldn’t have worked out any more nicely. As we read the Gospels, we are convinced that hospitality plays a major role in evangelism.
Preparations began early in the week with a shopping team, a cornbread dressing team, a pecan pie specialist, a green bean chef, a mashed potato artist, table-setters and dozens of others helping with various details.
On Wednesday evening, Nov. 14, with an unusually early snow beginning to fall, the congregation gathered in the church's Christian Life Center (CLC). Soon, approximately 250 guests were served and seated. Turkey, dressing and gravy, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pies, pecan pies –it was all there. Just like the first Thanksgiving, there was enough for everyone with plenty to spare.
The evening included elements to keep everyone entertained and in a festive mood. Soon after the blessing, we joined our voices to sing “We Gather Together” as an offering for the cost of the meal taken by our youth. It was understood that any financial gifts beyond the cost of the meal would be used to benefit UMCOR.  

We enjoyed music by local performer Andrew Wolle. For fun, there were Thanksgiving trivia questions displayed on the CLC's large screens. Children asked adults to write what they were grateful for and place answers in “blessing jars” at all the tables. These were recapped on screens and in the church newsletter.

Smiles and conversation came easily. As the evening drew to a close, “De-Bach-n-G,” a talented group of female vocalists, brought the group to doubled-over laughter with their rendition of a costumed Thanksgiving gobbler boldly crooning, “I will survive!”  
As we left, we prayed for a safe return home. "To-go" boxes were provided for leftovers. Church members were encouraged to prepare plates and take them to the clerk at the convenience store, first responders at fire and police stations and anywhere else people might be working away from their families that snowy evening.
After the money was counted, $667.70 above the meal cost was designated to UMCOR to aid survivors of recent hurricanes. In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, our congregation paused to give thanks to the God who provides all good things.   
“..The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.”  --II Corinthians 9: 6—8