Faith: Churches hoping to focus on giving thanks this Thanksgiving

By Brooke Finch
Staff Writer
bfinch@cnjonline.com

Forget the food and football. Local church leaders want to put the “thanks” back into Thanksgiving.

As Pastor Lemuel Perry of Clovis’ Bethel Assembly of God explained, Thanksgiving is often overshadowed by what he calls “the four Fs,” including family, food, football and Friday — Black Friday, that is.

“I think we really have to return to some of the roots of Thanksgiving,” Perry said. “It’s easy to lose what it’s all about; I think it’s important that we don’t.”

In an effort to gather church members one week before the holiday hype, Bethel Assembly of God will host a free community-wide Thanksgiving service at 7 p.m. Thursday at 1521 N. Norris St.

In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, the third annual service was made possible by community togetherness; the celebration came to fruition on behalf of at least eight area churches and the Clovis Christian Ministerial Alliance.

“It should very much be a joint effort with the goal of trying to get the community focused on what we have,” Perry said. “We believe the Gospel itself is an expression of thankfulness because of what Jesus did for us. That’s why we’re coming together.”

Rather than have a preaching service, Perry said the event — called “So Grateful” — will entail Scripture readings, music, poetry, praise dance team performances and skits.

And unlike most Thanksgiving celebrations, food is not expected to be included in the festivities.

“When we’ve had this event in the past, food didn’t draw any extra people,” Perry said. “The pilgrims, when they gathered, they didn’t have much in those early years. I think we have to emphasize the holiday is about giving thanks to God. We have been greatly blessed; we’ve been given a lot.”

For Pastor Bonita Knox of Clovis’ Trinity Lutheran Church, who will also be in attendance, Thanksgiving is a special time of year.

“I’m looking forward to sharing with our community our blessings,” Knox said. “When we share together in our community, in worship, we give our thanks to God for allowing our freedom in faith — to be a reminder for our community of our sacred responsibility of justice and peace.”