ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Although many events and traditions have been put aside this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one Elizabethton church said this is exactly the time to share a home-cooked meal.
“This is our twelfth annual Feast of Sharing at First Baptist Church,” Event organizer Lisa Bunn said. “This year looks a little different because of COVID-19. In the past, we’ve invited the community to come inside the church and to sit down at a meal, and share with neighbors and friends – this year, everything will be delivery and pick-up at sites around our community.”
Bunn told News Channel 11 that 1,400 meals were prepared, including 70 turkeys, to be distributed on Thanksgiving 2020.
Pastor at First Baptist Church in Elizabethton Todd Hallman said that even the preparations were different this year.
“Normally, we have anywhere between 50 and 75 people volunteering, prepping the food, cutting the onions and the celery for the dressing and all that, and all that takes place in the kitchen, which is adjacent here, and so in order to make sure we social distance, we moved everything into the fellowship hall where we usually serve, so we’re limiting the number of people here at a time, and we’ve pretty much if you’re in a household, we’d like to have you at a table, so that way we can practice social distancing and we’ve got round-the-clock volunteers,” Hallman explained.”We realized with the pandemic that a lot of people have been shut in and they’ve not been out to fellowship with different people and so this gives us an opportunity to volunteer and as much as we know people benefit from this, we benefit from it because this is one of the fundamental ministries that we do each year. All of us come together and so we’re very excited, even though we’re in the midst of a pandemic, that we’re able to provide food, and as you can see – everybody’s got masks, everybody’s got gloves – we’ve taken every precaution to make sure that the quality of the meal is the same as it always has been.”
A traditional Thanksgiving meal is set to be available at the church, located at 212 East F Street, and multiple elementary schools around Elizabethton.
“We do deliveries in city limits to senior adults and shut-ins, we also do deliveries to our police departments fire departments, those essential workers who are working tomorrow, and to apartments where there are senior residents or special needs residents, so that’s what we’ll be doing tomorrow instead of like we’ve done in the past,” Bunn explained. “We debated for a while as to what we would do and how we would do it. We decided and realized for ourselves that although things have changed, the needs have not changed within our community, and we’re still responsible to meet those needs of the people in our community, and so that’s what we want to do.”
Though many families across the country will not be enjoying the company of large groups of family members during their Thanksgiving meals, the members of this Elizabethton church hope to bring some joy and normalcy to members of their community.
“That’s why we do this – because we want to shed light in a dark world, and especially in 2020, we want to shed light and say there is still hope and there are still people who care and people who want to provide for the needs, and that’s my church family – a big heart,” Bunn said.