Free Thanksgiving meal for all in Aledo

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The holidays can be a joyful time, but, for some, it can be one of the most lonely times of the year. That's a big reason why the First Baptist Church of Aledo decided to sponsor a free Thanksgiving meal this year.

Seth Bowker, associate pastor at the church, said this is the first year they've tried this in Aledo.

"We just had a desire to serve the community," Bowker said, "making sure nobody goes without a Thanksgiving meal."

The meal will be served from 11 a.m. to noon Nov. 26 at the Mercer County Senior Citizen's Center in Aledo. There will also be deliveries _ in Aledo _ to those who are homebound.

Bowker said all pastors in Mercer County have been contacted and if there are ones in other communities willing to come to Aledo, then deliver meals to people in their towns, "to-go" boxes will be prepared.

"Some of the main areas we're trying to hit are those who are homebound and, of course, the seniors who don't have families, but who want to have a (Thanksgiving) meal," he said. "Since it's an open table, people from all walks of life, from all pasts, are welcome. Being an open table … everyone needs to feel love, the kind Jesus offers."

To be clear, even though the meal is at the Senior Center, all are welcome.

The menu is a traditional Thanksgiving feast; turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans and pumpkin, apple and orange-cherry pies. There also will be dinner rolls.

"Mercer Market is actually catering it. It won't be cooked by me, which is a benefit to everyone," Rev. Bowker said, laughing. "Mercer Market is also doing the plates, the silverware and the napkins.

"They've never done this before either, so it's a learning experience all the way around," he said. "Being able to shop local is awesome."

Bowker said Mercer Market offered the catering at a very reasonable price to the church. He said what was special is the folks at the supermarket at first said they don't cook meals for events like this but said they'd get back to him. They did and said they would, indeed, take care of the meal.

There are 20 volunteers from the church ready to help and the church is not only paying for the food, it is taking care of renting the Senior Center.

Bowker has been involved with such meals in the past in other towns. He said it's been his experience that a great sense of thanksgiving comes over everyone there.

"It's a sense of family you get and realizing God is the God of feasts," he said. "When you break bread and have a meal, it is an intimate time of fellowship."

Bowker added he uses a Bible verse that says, "When you prepare a feast, do not invite people who can repay you, but invite those who cannot and your Father will repay you."

Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by Nov. 23 by calling 582-7812. This will give Mercer Market a count of how many meals to prepare. Bowker said there will be extras, however, for those who fail to RSVP by the 23rd. In addition, homebound or shut-ins should also RSVP by calling the same number, 582-7812.

"We're wanting the Lord to bless what we're doing, not bless us," the pastor said.