While there’s nothing particularly religious about eating a huge meal of turkey, stuffing and green bean casserole, the history of the Thanksgiving holiday is rich in faith.
The Pilgrims who attended the first Thanksgiving were devoutly religious. Intolerance of their faith is what brought them to these shores from England.
And while the Pilgrims didn’t usually care to celebrate holidays, when they decided that a circumstance was a favor from God, they offered up a celebration of thanks.
In 1789, President George Washington declared that there would be a national day of thanksgiving and praise to celebrate what God had given. But after the first declaration, he left it up to the individual states to decide when and if there would be additional Thanksgivings.
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Some states objected to the religious history of the holiday, and it wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln was president that a national declaration of a Thanksgiving Day returned. That version was more secular, and the date was fluid.
While food and football get top billing on modern Thanksgiving Day, some congregations gather the faithful to give thanks together during the holiday.
For the past 10 years, a group of churches in Midtown Raleigh have assembled to share a single ecumenical service. Participants at the Tuesday, Nov. 24, gathering at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church also include Grace Lutheran, Trinity Baptist, Hudson Memorial Presbyterian, St. Mark’s United Methodist, The Fountain of Raleigh, North Haven Church and Church of the Apostles.
“We have seven different congregations and we all come together under one roof to worship and thank God for the gifts that he has given us throughout the year,” said the Rev. Dr. Michael Frye, senior minister at Grace Lutheran Church. “But the main reason we gather together is to give thanks through our offerings to support North Raleigh Ministries and the feeding of the hungry and helping those who have special needs throughout the year.”
North Raleigh Ministries was founded in the early 2000s by a group of ministers in the North Hills area of Raleigh as a way to pool resources and centralize an outreach to the working poor.
The Thanksgiving offering allows those who are thankful for what they have an opportunity to give to someone who will be thankful to receive it. And the special service is also a time for reflection.
“The fact that everybody is in turmoil over the way things have been happening in the Middle East and in France and Lebanon, it’s a good time for us to not only give thanks but to pray for peace in the world,” Frye said.
Two Baptist churches in Raleigh are also partnering for a special service of Thanksgiving. Mt. Vernon Baptist Church will host Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church for a Thanksgiving Eve service at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25,. There will be a fellowship dinner after the service.
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church is located at 7600 Falls of Neuse Road. For more information about the Thanksgiving service, go to mvbcraleigh.com.
Breakfast Book Club
The Breakfast Book Club at Unity Church of Raleigh will meet from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 28.
The November book is the metaphysical classic “Awakened Imagination” by Neville Goddard.
Free childcare will be available, and a love offering will be collected.
Unity Church of Raleigh is located at 11101 Creedmoor Road on Amran Temple Drive. Go online to unitychurchofraleigh.org.
Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at firstname.lastname@example.org.