Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and green beans were on the menu at First Baptist Church Eastpoint, Florida’s annual community-wide Thanksgiving dinner.
The church may be small in number, but it is on a mission to nourish bodies and souls during the holidays and throughout the year with a volunteer-run food pantry ministry.
“Eastpoint is in one of the most economically depressed areas in our association,” said Troy Varnum, mission strategist, Northwest Coast Baptist Association. “The feeding ministry has been active for more than 15 years and has been a hallmark of the church’s mission advancement.”
Bringing people together
The Thanksgiving dinner was a time to minister and show gratitude also to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office work crew that lends support to the food pantry on a weekly basis.
“Food always brings people together,” said Sheriff A.J. “Tony” Smith. “They had all the fixings. The meal smelled great, and we are grateful for the kind gesture.”
The church receives food through farm shares and donations from church members and local businesses. Through farm shares, they are able to offer fresh, local vegetables to families in need.
More than 120 families benefit weekly from the food ministry.
Recipients find their way to the church via word of mouth and the church Facebook page, and then there is an application process to qualify for assistance.
Each interaction is an opportunity to show the love of Christ.
Varnum added, “It is heartwarming to see the church embrace this challenge as an opportunity for God to speak grace in the lives of the community.”
Volunteers are mostly church members who are dedicated, cooperative and love people. The church has welcomed new members and baptized all ages after the food ministry introduced them to the church.
“It means a great deal to the community,” said Pastor Dan Fender. “Hosting the Thanksgiving dinner the Thursday before Thanksgiving is one way we can share the gospel with over 200 people in our community. This community outreach event is a huge blessing for those who attend.”