Area Churches Host What Has Become More Than Just A Thanksgiving Dinner

By Peter Burkemper

A very special anniversary takes place this Thanksgiving Day with the tenth anniversary of the annual Ecumenical Thanksgiving Dinner. This year’s event will be held at St. Ferdinand Church, 1765 Charbonier Rd. in Florissant from 11:30-3.

The Ecumenical Thanksgiving Dinner was started by St. Ferdinand parishioner Pat Von Nida, who is chairperson for the 2008 dinner. After being inspired by the 1999 visit of Pope John Paul II, who emphasized interfaith and ecumenical relations, Von Nida said she began talking with several area churches with the idea of a free dinner for the community. That November, St. Ferdinand Catholic Church, Florissant Presbyterian Church, and St. Sabina Catholic Church joined together to present the first Ecumenical Thanksgiving Dinner.

The 10th annual dinner is sponsored by members of St. Sabina Catholic Church, St. Ferdinand Catholic Church, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Halls Ferry Christian Church, St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church and St. Angela Merici Catholic Church.

Why is this event so special? For the past ten years multiple churches of various denominations have been providing Thanksgiving dinner complete with all the trimmings for those who would otherwise not be able to enjoy something so many of us take for granted. Whether it is for financial reasons or for lack of family in the area, these local churches have been there to provide for their needs. They also provide for carry out dinners.

The dinner has also fostered good will between various denominations and created a sense of community in the area. No one is turned away. A person does not have to have a need in order to attend! Anyone who wants even just a place to share Thanksgiving dinner with others is welcome. Von Nida there are many people from the community ” who enjoy the dinner for the conversation they are able to have with other attendees. ”

All who attend also receive a special hygiene bag put together by the volunteers. The organization also makes donations to the local food pantries such as T.E.A.M. and uses extra funds to provide scarves and other winter apparel for those in need— giving the event an impact reaching beyond just one day.

For the past ten years the Ecumenical Thanksgiving Dinner has been working on a purely volunteer basis with funding received from donations by individuals, local businesses and organizations. A fact which makes this particular event all the more worthwhile. In any day or age for someone to give something without asking for anything in return is truly a wonderful thing, and without the help of these volunteers it would not happen.

Because it’s such large undertaking, help is always appreciated and can be provided in numerous ways. Churches are needed to help sponsor the event as are financial gifts and supply donations. No less important is the gift of volunteering. Helping out with the event can be something as simple as spreading the word.

To donate in any way or just find out more visit FreeDinner.org. or call Pat Nida at 838-4144
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