The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 9, 2006

Free Thanksgiving dinner

Community invited to evening of food, fellowship

By Bev Davis

The Words of Hope Ministry, under the direction of Gus and Debby Farris, will host a free Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings at

6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at The Place, behind United Methodist Temple in Beckley.

“This is a full Thanksgiving meal that will be served in a relaxed atmosphere that will include worship and fellowship and special music,” Debby Farris said.

Special guest speaker will be Anthony Byrge, and special music will be provided by the Mountain View Christian School choir.

“We’re calling it a Thanksgiving dinner and praise service,” Farris said. “We wanted to bring people together in fellowship and a time of sharing, and this is a way for us to give back to the community for all the support it has given to The Place.”

Daniel Spurgeon, music minister at United Methodist Temple, will provide music during the meal.

A free Easter dinner drew more than 300 people to The Place last spring, Farris said.

“We were amazed at the turnout. We had people who walked because they didn’t have transportation.”

The evening is designed for anyone of any economic level, she said.

“This is an evening for everyone. People don’t have to worry about how they dress. Some may choose to wear jeans and sweatshirts. Others may dress up. It doesn’t matter. Everyone should feel comfortable no matter what.”

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The event will give folks a sampling of the kinds of worship held regularly at 7 p.m. each Saturday at The Place, Farris said.

“We’ve had a lot of people come and join us, but there are still lots of people who don’t know that we have a regular service every Saturday. Some people think we just have services periodically or that we just did them for a time. We want people to come and see what it’s all about.”

Although regular Saturdays at The Place do not include a meal, people receive a lot of “spiritual food,” Farris said.

“We have ministers come, and they love to be able to worship and not have to be part of the program. It refreshes them, and a lot of them tell me as they leave, ‘Now, I’m ready for tomorrow.’ It fills them up spiritually so they can go back to their pulpits and feed their congregations,” Farris said.

She still finds people with misconceptions about the reason for the Saturday evening worship services.

“We are definitely not trying to steal people away from other churches,” Farris said. “This is an alternative service that can give members of various churches an opportunity to worship at a different place to get a little bit of variety in their spiritual life. It’s a place where youth leaders can bring their youth groups for a special night of worship, and it’s a place where young and old come together to share in a blend of traditional and contemporary worship.”

— E-mail: bdavis@register-herald.com