Community churches provide Thanksgiving meals, multi-faith services
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Nov 24, 2013 | 3564 views |  0 comments | 84 84 recommendations | email to a friend | print
People carry banners from participating congregations walk down the aisle during the Interfaith Community Thanksgiving Service at the 17th Street Baptist Church in Anniston on Sunday. (Photo by Joey D'Anna/The Anniston Star)
People carry banners from participating congregations walk down the aisle during the Interfaith Community Thanksgiving Service at the 17th Street Baptist Church in Anniston on Sunday. (Photo by Joey D'Anna/The Anniston Star)
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Students A.J. Martin and Terrence Sizemore with Renovation Ministries stack turkeys for distribution to needy families at the Carver Community Center in Anniston on Sunday. (Photo by Joe D'Anna/The Anniston Star)
Students A.J. Martin and Terrence Sizemore with Renovation Ministries stack turkeys for distribution to needy families at the Carver Community Center in Anniston on Sunday. (Photo by Joe D'Anna/The Anniston Star)
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Terry Hunt had a mission.

The Anniston resident waited outside the Carver Community Center Sunday in frigid temperatures among hundreds of other people. Inside were turkeys, canned vegetables, milk, eggs and more — all the ingredients needed to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

After several hours, Hunt obtained everything necessary for a Thanksgiving feast, fulfilling his mission.

Then he gave it all away.

"I got it all for my neighbors ... they're really old and retired and couldn't be here," Hunt said. "God has been good to me and blessed me and I just wanted to help."

Sunday was a day of thanks, fellowship and caring for the less fortunate as area churches banded together to provide free Thanksgiving meals and multi-faith services. Renovation Ministries partnered with other area churches to host its fourth annual Thanksgiving meal giveaway at the community center Sunday. Meanwhile, just a block away, Interfaith Ministries held its annual Community Thanksgiving Service at 17th Street Missionary Baptist Church, bringing believers of different faiths all under one roof.

More than 500 people showed up outside the community center to obtain Thanksgiving food. The majority of the people there had been pre-approved for the food, having proven they were in need.

Chris Terrell, executive director of Renovation Ministries, said 18 different churches donated around $10,000 to purchase the food for the needy. Terrell said the event has grown considerably in the last four years.

"And we anticipate a larger event next year," Terrell said.

Terrell said his organization's goal is not just to feed residents Thanksgiving food, but to also feed their souls. Renovation Ministries held a prayer service before handing out the food, allowing anyone the option to worship if they desired.

"Our ultimate goal is to glorify God and meet people's physical needs so we can meet their spiritual needs," Terrell said.

Monique Arnold of Oxford was one of several volunteers who helped hand out food Sunday. Arnold, whose husband and three children also helped, said her family has volunteered to help the needy before, but never for the Sunday Thanksgiving event.

"The Lord has given us so much that we like to give back," Arnold said.

Chad and Brandy Turner also brought their children to help distribute food.

"We wanted our kids to see how blessed we are," Brandy Turner said.

More than 100 people turned out for the Interfaith Ministries community service. Multiple Christian denominations along with Jewish and Islamic organizations were represented. The event kicked off with a procession of flags of the different faiths into the church. The attendants then heard a variety of Christian, Jewish and Islamic prayers, along with readings from the Bible and the Quran.

"Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your community efforts," the Rev. Steven Richardson of 17th Street Baptist Church said to Interfaith Ministries representatives.

Mayor Vaughn Stewart spoke briefly at the start of the service, saying more community acceptance and cooperation like that at the event was needed to move Anniston into the future.

"Everyone has to come together before we can move forward," Stewart said.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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