Community gathers to give thanks

Published 12:55 am Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NATCHEZ — Indulging in the meal is a Thanksgiving tradition, but the Rev. Jon Shonebarger said Thursday should be about more than “Turkey Day.”

Shonebarger, the chaplain at Adams County Correctional Center, spoke in his meditation to the congregation at Tuesday’s Community Thanksgiving service about three areas of every American Christian’s life to which they owe thanks.

The service at the Jefferson Street Methodist Family Life Center was hosted by the Natchez Ministerial Alliance and featured church officials from a variety of congregations and faiths.

Email newsletter signup

Shonebarger told the audience to spend Thanksgiving — and every day — remembering and rejoicing in their faith, family and freedom.

He said people should have gratitude for the strength they receive from their faith and appreciate how God gave the world his son to absolve human sin.

“No matter what life may dish us, to know God has given us a free gift (of Jesus) — that is an anchor, a rock,” he said.

Hosting an array of relatives during the holidays, might also remind people to be grateful for their families.

“We need to rejoice in those relationships and never take them for granted because life is but vapor,” Shonebarger said.

In addition, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to reconcile with family members for those relationships that have become estranged.

Freedom is another blessing Shonebarger said Americans might often take for granted.

“Our freedom was purchased through the blood of centuries,” Shonebarger said.

Remembering the sacrifices of others, in faith family and freedom can help a person have more gratitude for what they have and be happier, he said.

“Distinguish yourself as a grateful individual,” Shonebarger said.

Taking time to remember and understand that God has been good to his people allows people to have more joy in their life.

“Don’t you want to see someone with a smile on their face instead of someone looking like they were baptized in dill-pickle juice?” Shonebarger said.

“Show joy that the Lord is our strength, and we should not let people or problems have power over us,” he said.

Many declarations of “Amen” and other expressions of agreement were spoken during Shonebarger’s meditation by a few members of the crowd of approximately 40 gathered for the service.

Untied Grace Methodist Pastor the Rev. Darian Duckworth said the community service has taken place for at least 25 years.

Co-pastor at the First Presbyterian Church Noelle Read said attendance at the service has waned in past years, so it was offered during lunch this year to allow businessmen and businesswomen attend during lunch.

Those who attended brought a bagged lunch and ate it around tables decorated with a Thanksgiving cornucopias theme, and each person brought canned goods to donate to the Jefferson Street church’s pantry.

A monetary offering for Catholic Charities was also collected during the service.

Letta Crocker, who attended the service, said it was very uplifting.

“The whole town should have been here,” she said.

Crocker said she enjoyed hearing from people in other congregations.

“It’s great that they have them all working together,” she said.

The Rev. Kerie Sue McCaleb, associate pastor of the Jefferson Street church who helped coordinate the service, also said she enjoyed the service and the variety of faiths coming together.

“Sometimes we stay in our own houses of worship, but we need to support each other because we’re all working toward the same goal,” McCaleb said.