East Rockingham UMC has prepared Thanksgiving meals for several years. The first year, the church served around 80 people, and since then the event has become a staple for the church and community. On November 20, 2021, the church distributed over 1,700 meals throughout the community.
Over 100 volunteers of all ages from at least six United Methodist Churches, four other denominations, and the community helped prepare and deliver meals. Volunteers prepared the week leading up to the meal delivery and began cooking at 5:30 am on November 20. The meal included turkey, dressing, gravy, yams, green beans, bread, and dessert.
Volunteers delivered 1,200 plates to Meals on Wheels recipients, older adults, individual homes, the Hamlet Soup Kitchen, and Samaritan Colony. An additional 500 to-go plates were distributed to older adults and people who cannot cook for themselves. The church also worked with local school counselors to provide meals for students in need during the holiday and was able to give a plate for each member of the home.
The Thanksgiving Meal event opened opportunities for East Rockingham UMC to develop partnerships with other churches, schools, and groups in the community that continue throughout the year. As a direct result of this meal, the church has ongoing missions with a local school to ensure elementary students have underwear, socks, and glasses. Recently, the church was made aware of an emergency with some children in custody of the Department of Social Services (DSS). Within 72 hours, East Rockingham along with Cordova UMC ensured DSS had hygiene supplies for all their children. This meal also led to another mission, Senior Meals, in which the church feeds over 40 shut-ins healthy and home-cooked meals every other week.
Chevonne Wallace, East Rockingham UMC’s Lay Leader, said, “our church has learned to take leaps of faith and trust that God will provide the money and volunteers needed. We know that God allows us to serve and for that we are so grateful for these opportunities.”
Michael Griffin is the pastor at East Rockingham UMC.