Thanksgiving Day marked the fifth year that Randall’s Chapel UMC in the Northeast District provided a free Thanksgiving meal for members of the community. The Randall’s Chapel congregation hosts the meal in conjunction with individuals, businesses, organizations, Upper Sand Mountain Parrish, and local churches. Each year the event has seen the number of recipients increase, this year serving more than 800 plates of food.
The ministry began under the leadership of Randall’s Chapel lay leader Ralph Grider and his Sunday school class, with the intention of being a community undertaking. Grider has stressed the servant model for the church's involvement—even to the point of church members stepping aside and allowing others to serve the meals.
A great advertising campaign, in conjunction with word-of-mouth endorsement from the community, has led to the steady increase in attendance. This year the church provided meals to the county rescue squad as they were actively searching for a drowning victim in the area. This was also the first year that the church fed 100 people at the Celebrate Recovery service at First United Methodist Church in Scottsboro.
Pastor Michael Carver fell in line with the church's vision as he offered his experience, passion, and cooking trailer for the event. Rev. Carver, a long-time cook for disaster relief and church events across the conference, is excited about the opportunities to connect with this ministry and gives credit to Bishop Willimon and Cabinet for the insightful matching of gifts and passions to church needs. This has certainly been a very positive match in the appointment process.
Grider has already had a debriefing and plans are underway for an even bigger event next Thanksgiving.