After Hurricane Sandy, our congregation held “storm kitchens,” where we gathered to cook for those without power. After the initial crisis passed, we asked ourselves as a missional mentoring group, “What’s next?” One of the young women suggested thanking our local fire fighters. For many in our group, cooking and serving food is our passion and gift, a way that we express love and care for others. So on November 27th and 29th, we served Thanksgiving dinner at two firehouses in Roslyn and Hilltown (Pa).
It is important to us as a missional group to bless those who help our community thrive, and these volunteers (can you believe this is still done on a VOLUNTEER basis??) do just that. We wanted to bless them from our faith perspective, while recognizing they may not share our beliefs or practices. They were very open to that and were genuinely appreciative of the prayer of blessing we gave them and the time we spent with them that night… as well as the food, of course!
I served at the Hilltown firehouse. Although the meal was outside of our comfort zone, we soon discovered that humor unites. Within moments of arriving with my big roasting pans and all the food, they were teasing me gently and I gave it right back to them. The joking created a comfort level that made us all feel safe in each other’s presence.
It took conscious effort for those of us from Doylestown to not just talk to each other, but to break out of our “clique” and begin to visit with the firefighters and their families. Once we did that, however, we made connections and shared stories and the conversation flowed freely.
Jenni Garrido, who organized the dinner at Roslyn, said the folks at the firehouse couldn’t believe someone from their neighborhood would take the time and effort to bring them a meal… they were floored by the generosity.
This felt like only a beginning. The firefighters are looking for connections and relationships within the community and are very open to more conversation and time together. A few of us are gathering to pray there on Friday morning. Who knows what more may come?!
A Thanksgiving Retreat
by Aldo Siahaan, Philadelphia Praise Center
On a beautiful Thursday morning around 8 o’clock sounds of laughter and excitement could be heard from Philadelphia Praise Center’s building in South Philly. About 100 congregation members were anxious to depart for Quakertown Christian School, where we held a one-day Thanksgiving Retreat filled with sermons, games, fellowship, and other fun activities.
At this year’s retreat, PPC was fortunate to host not one, but two special guests from Indonesia. The guest speaker was Rev. Daniel Alexander, a well-known preacher in Indonesia who has been ministering in Nabire, Papua since the 1980s. In addition, Rev. Alexander also brought along Stevano Wowiling, one of the finalists from a recent Indonesian Idol, who led the congregation in ardent worship sessions.
Halfway through the day, members of Nations Worship Center joined us after spending Thanksgiving morning at Salford Mennonite Church. The Thanksgiving Retreat ended with dinner at a nearby Chinese buffet.