Two local churches to take reservations for Thanksgiving meals, volunteers

Reservations for free, home-cooked Thanksgiving Day meals for anyone in Bartholomew County can be made beginning Tuesday via two local churches. Organizers plan to serve about 1,500 meals.

Both congregations also could use a few extra volunteers. For Columbus Baptist, that includes those willing to cook turkeys ahead of time for its annual Feed the Flock event.

The meals have nothing to do with financial need, though some recipients say they would struggle to prepare a full holiday meal because of age or infirmity.

The meals began especially as a way for those without nearby family to have a way to celebrate Thanksgiving with others while avoiding dining alone or battling loneliness.

And while previous gatherings have been popular, the COVID-19 pandemic changed plenty beginning in 2020.

With First Christian Church, all of its planned 500-plus meals will be for delivery just as they were last year, according to Diane Doup of the nonprofit Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, which is partnering with the church on the event.

The local post office also works with First Christian on the logistics and detail of deliveries.

Columbus Baptist Church, with help from volunteers from other churches and the general public, plans to prepare more than 1,000 meals, according to its pastor, Charles Kennedy.

“I was blown away last year,” he said of nearly reaching the 1,000 meals mark with about 70 volunteers.

He added that expenses are covered by financial and food donations from the public.

Its meals are available for dine-in, pickup or delivery. Last year, about 80 percent of its record 986 meals were delivered, and always with a side of warm prayer.

“Nobody turns down prayer (from delivery volunteers),” Kennedy said.

Last year, that included one meal recipient whose husband had just had a heart attack the night before and was admitted to Columbus Regional Hospital. The woman burst into tears at her door when Kennedy innocently asked if there was anything that he could pray with her about.

Similarly, Doup has mentioned that First Christian’s volunteers sometimes might, with a meal recipient’s permission, linger a bit longer than usual at the door of one who lives alone or someone who seems despondent on the holiday.

“The clear feedback that we got from recipients last year indicated that deliveries work best for most families,” Doup said. “We don’t want anybody to go hungry on Thanksgiving. And for many, we know it can help just seeing a friendly face at their door.”

Doup mentioned that First Christian always has been “very generous” in this holiday outreach.

“We’re just very grateful that First Christian still provides this opportunity for residents,” Doup said. “And we’re also grateful that we have wonderful partners and donors who ensure that anyone in the community with this need can be served.”

Kennedy said Columbus Baptist members consider it a privilege to serve others as part of their demonstrated Christian love.

“People remember a kindness like this,” Kennedy said. “They come to know that you really care about them.”

Kennedy thought for a second about one other semi-lasting effect of the holiday outreach that includes 30 five-quart, electric broasters cooking turkeys in the church the day before.

“The church,” the pastor said, “smells like turkey for probably two weeks afterward.”

Columbus Baptist Church

To reserve Thanksgiving Day meals for in-person, pickup or delivery via Columbus Baptist Church (or to volunteer) beginning Tuesday, call:

  • Keri Dutcher at 812-314-9767
  • Paul Henderson at 812-371-1400
  • David and Lisa Whitehouse at 812-418-8213
  • Jennifer Dement at 812-371-3728

First Christian Church

To reserve up to six free Thanksgiving Day meals per household via First Christian Church, call 812-379-4491 beginning Tuesday.

To volunteer to help with meals or more, call Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center at 812-379-1630.