By Christine Bolaños
Six Liberty Hill churches, their pastors, Operation Liberty Hill and the community are uniting for a feast on Thanksgiving Day.
It is the first of what coordinators hope will become an annual event. Anyone from the community is invited to take part in a spread featuring turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, dressing, rolls, desserts and drinks.
“It’s been years in the making,” said Grace Alive Church Pastor Dawn Slack.
About two years ago, Slack had a brainstorming session with Operation Liberty Hill Executive Director Susan Baker about the community’s vision for the event.
“Susan and I talked for hours about how to minister to the community,” Slack recalled.
On Nov. 26, that vision, with help from many others, is coming alive.
Liberty Hill United Methodist Church is providing enough turkey to serve 500. Grace Alive is serving mashed potatoes and decorating the tables where people are eating, as well as bringing trash bags and trash cans.
Williamson County Cowboy Church is bringing desserts while Fellowship Church is taking care of dressing and green beans. Mission Liberty Hill Lutheran Church is providing plasticware and napkins. LifeSprings is providing sweet potatoes.
All the participating churches, whose pastors form the community’s Ministerial Alliance, will help with clean up, set up, cooking and making everyone who attends feel welcome.
“The most important thing to us is the opportunity to make new friends,” said Assistant Pastor Judy Swarts of Liberty Hill United Methodist Church.
Slack echoed her comments.
“When they walk in the door they will be friends not strangers,” she said.
The two pastors have been driving forces for the event.
“We want to create a family atmosphere and serve the people that have come,” Slack said. “We wanted to serve people on Thanksgiving for years. The community of Liberty Hill gets tired of just eating and eating.”
The idea for a family-like Thanksgiving meal at a community level came about when the two pastors pondered how they could help the community yet do something unique.
“Pastor Dawn and I got together and visited about what could we do that’s different than handing out boxes of food or giving out gift cards that could build relationships,” Swarts explained.
“This adds a personal touch,” Slack added.
When the pastors brought it up to the other members of the Ministerial Alliance they were all happy to jump on board.
Slack said the event gives the churches an opportunity to come together for something truly special.
Swarts hopes this is only the beginning of something great.
“I see people going around with pots of coffee and making people feel welcome to give it a family atmosphere,” Slack said. “The churches are even helping donate tables.”
Event coordinators are joining in a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Liberty Hill United Methodist Church to tie any loose ends and sort through last minute details related to the event. Anyone interested is welcomed to attend.
The Thanksgiving feast will take place on Thursday, Nov. 26, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the worship center of the same church, located at 101 Church Street.
The pastors made sure to express that anyone — from widowers to young families with small children to single adults — are welcome to join in on the Thanksgiving festivities.
“There’s no criteria. No requirements. No questions asked,” they jointly said. “You come and feel like you’re at home. That’s what the whole idea is about and the servers will be eating hopefully as well.”
Slack sees the event as a big opportunity to minister to the community.
“More churches are welcome to be a part of (the Ministerial Alliance),” she said “It’s a precious fellowship of pastors going across the denominational board. It’s great. Just a sweet, sweet fellowship.
“They all have faith in Jesus Christ and that brings us together,” Slack added. “And then our love and prayers for the community.”
Swarts said the purpose behind the Alliance and the feast can best be explained in Matthew 25: 35-36 NIV: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to me.”
While they have enough food already the pastors welcome any donations for future Thanksgiving feasts and said the donations should be directed to Operation Liberty Hill.
“We’re looking to serve more each year and embrace the opportunity to take care of each other,” Swarts said. “We’d like to expand into welcoming other churches in participating. We want people to come and feel like they’re at home having Thanksgiving with their family.”