In the evolution of American culture, Thanksgiving has departed from its original, communal tradition. What was once a feast celebrating harmony within a community is today readily accepted as simply an elaborate, formal meal served between televised games of football. However, falling between the cracks are those refusing to accept this as a custom, urging, instead, a return to the holiday’s roots.
On Saturday, Nov. 20, Chester will revisit the tradition with the Community Thanksgiving at Broadwater Townhomes, sponsored by Chester United Methodist Church. As part of its community outreach ministry, the church is preparing to conduct two sessions – one at 11:30 a.m., the other at 2 p.m. – both held outside, directly in front of the community’s clubhouse. The event is open to anyone, but attendees must pre-register now. In addition to the hearty meal being served, the event will provide ample time for fellowship, celebration and even entertainment for children.
“We are looking at this to bring the community together,” said Brandon Robbins, associate pastor of Chester United Methodist, one of the leading coordinators of the event.
On behalf of the church, Robbins views Broadwater as an ideal location for the first-time event to occur since, after all, “it’s right in our backyard,” he said. Broadwater, a neighborhood off Harrowgate Road, is expected to accommodate roughly 200 people for each session.
“We are advocating a positive and safe environment,” said Robbins, adding that the church has been doing ministry in the neighborhood since July. “As a church, we wish to spread the gospel and build relationships with the community.”
Also playing a significant role in the coordinating of the Community Thanksgiving is Chester resident Jenni Deckert. A member of the church whose enthusiastic approach to the event is more than refreshing, Deckert said that “from this will be people pulling together, fostering a bond.”
Since the Community Thanksgiving will take place outdoors, event tents will be constructed, providing shelter and a close-knit atmosphere, otherwise strengthening this “bond” Deckert speaks of. Being that the purpose of the event is to create a sense of unity for the people attending, the church anticipates that the tents will help to “provide an intimate feel,” she said.
In spite of this, there is one looming inconvenience; preparations for this particular event do not come cheap. For the event to be a true success, the church needs approximately $5,000 to acquire and construct a variety of items, those being chairs, tables and large event tents. Although this number seems paramount, the church expresses ardent optimism that the event will prevail against the odds. Nonetheless, the church needs the help of the community in any and every way possible. The church is welcoming an assortment of donations, including monetary contributions and the appropriate equipment needed to make the event happen.
Those with questions, or who are interested in attending the Community Thanksgiving at Broadwater, can call Chester United Methodist Church at 748-6006. Parking will be at Harrowgate Elementary and a shuttle will be transporting people. Food preparations will be taken care of by Chester Christian Church, so additional food is not necessary.