Independence churches and community members got together to celebrate Thanksgiving in the holiday’s original tradition of giving and helping without expectation of personal reward.
The traditional holiday dinner was served to more than 100 locals at the annual Independence Community Thanksgiving Dinner at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18 in the Owens Valley School multi-purpose room.
Parishioners of Sierra Baptist Church and Pioneer Memorial United Methodist Church joined hands to bring the dinner off; however, neither church feels the need to take credit, said a church spokesperson. “God knows and that is good enough for us,” he said.
Ten years ago, the idea for an annual, community-wide gratitude dinner grew out of a problem, said the spokesperson. People didn’t like being singled out as needy when food baskets were delivered to them at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not only are the churches careful not to stigmatize anyone, the dinner is held at 2 p.m. “so that no one needs to travel home in the dark. Some (people) from outside Independence attend … We just consider such people to be friends of Independence,” the spokesperson said.
The dinner is free to guests. The churches do not even ask diners for donations although, in some years, they have had a Salvation Army kettle on display.
The Baptist church provides the main portions of the meal and the dinnerware. The Methodist church has always provided hall decorations and drinks.
Without delivering a sermon or asking for anything on behalf of either church, “a prayer of blessing for the community (is given) as we enjoy the meal together … We just want to be a blessing to our community. We really enjoy this,” explained the spokesperson. Every year, Rich and Kathy White have been on hand to carve three turkeys which are prepared by various parishioners. Parishioners and other guests are invited to bring side dishes but such potluck contributions are not mandatory.
The dinner is “one of the great highlights of the year for our great little community,” said the spokesperson.