Church celebrates Thanksgiving with community meal
For 35 years, the Church of the Advent Episcopal in Brownsville has provided its members and anyone who doesn’t want to spend Thanksgiving alone an opportunity to gather for a holiday meal.
“Thirty-five years ago, our priest said it was a sin for a parishioner of Church of the Advent to eat a Thanksgiving meal at Luby’s,” said John Williamson, a longtime member of the church. “He said, ‘If you don’t have family, we at the church are your family.’ It’s interesting because most of the people at the church have family in Brownsville, but there are a lot of older people who don’t have any. So we have about 75 people who come every Thanksgiving. It’s really to make sure that everyone in the church has a Thanksgiving meal with the family.”
The church held a service at 10:30 a.m. Thursday and invited attendees, as well as outsiders, to have a meal after Mass.
Williamson said although it isn’t a requirement, members of the church often bring food or desserts for attendees to enjoy.
Mary Anita Johnson, who has been a member of the church for 79 years, said she attended the Thanksgiving service and feast because she wanted to spend time with her church family.
“We always have a beautiful Thanksgiving service for God for all the blessings he’s given us,” Johnson said. “I was baptized here, so I’ve been a part of this family my whole life.”
Rev. Laurie McKim has been a part of the Church of Advent for six years.
McKim said at any time possible, the church will share its blessings with the community and will always have its doors open for anyone seeking fellowship.
“At any time that we can include our neighbors in the abundance and the blessings that God has bestowed upon us, that’s our call,” she said. “This is a community of faith and it seeks the face of Christ in everyone we encounter. It is our baptismal vow that calls us to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.”
Melanie Oliveira was another attendee among the crowd on Thursday.
The Brownsville resident has been part of the church for most of her life and shared a meal with her mother and other members during Thanksgiving.
“It’s a day where nobody has to be alone,” Oliveira said. “It’s a day where any and everyone have someone to share a meal with.”
Preparations for the Thanksgiving feast began at 9 a.m.
Kim Cromack, who also has been a member of the church his whole life, was the first to arrive on Thursday to get things ready.
Cromack said the church will never turn anyone away during the holiday and encourages community members to attend next year’s feast so the tradition grows stronger.
“It’s just getting everybody together at least once a year to celebrate all our joys and blessings of the church,” he said. “This is open to everyone. There may be people here who are not members of our church, but they’ve come anyway.”