Service brings churches together

Published 9:54 am Friday, November 7, 2008

CHESAPEAKE — From the music to the sermon, the upcoming ecumenical Thanksgiving service will definitely be a community event.

Fifteen churches in the Chesapeake area get together each year to mark the national holiday with a special ecumenical service that this year will be at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23 at the Chesapeake Middle School.

“The service will include music by area choirs, thanksgiving meditation and a collection to fund the Community Mission Outreach to help the needy in our area,” the Rev. Charles Moran, pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Chesapeake, said.

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The mission outreach is a food and clothing pantry housed at the Chesapeake Community Center that last month helped 400 eastern end residents.

The service started out years ago going to the various Chesapeake churches on alternate years. However, the popularity of the event has grown that it is now at the middle school.

In fact, it was when the service was at St. Ann’s the organizers knew it was time to move. They had to put up 180 chairs to take care of the crowd.

“Last year over 400 people gathered to praise the Lord and help the needy,” Moran said. “It is nice to know we have outgrown the size of our churches for this service. What a wonderful opportunity to come together to give thanks for God, for all the wonderful gifts he has bestowed upon us as a family, a church and a community.”

A lot of the credit for the service’s growth fellow organizer Daryl Fourman, pastor of Chesapeake United Methodist Church, gives to Moran.

“A lot of it has been getting more churches involved with it when we started with maybe four churches,” Fourman said. “The year it was at St. Ann’s we were somehow able to get several other churches involved that year and it has grown from there.”

Usually two pastors or community members are asked to give a short homily on thanksgiving and interspersed with those short sermons are selections from a community choir made up of members of the churches. Music is sent out to churches ahead of time so participants can practice. Then on Sunday, Nov. 16, they will meet at 2 p.m. at the Methodist Church. Anyone wishing to join, can come to that practice.

“For the last couple of years we have been doing some anthems that seem reasonably easy for people to learn quickly,” Fourman said. “It is always great when churches come together.”