With the holiday season approaching, the Clintondale Christian Church gave their community an early taste of Thanksgiving on Saturday.
The event took place at the Church’s fellowship hall from 5 to 7 p.m. Though this wasn’t the first time the Church held a Thanksgiving dinner, it was the first one in a while. The tradition started more than 25 years ago, though no one knows exactly how many years the Church has been opening its doors for the holiday.
The food was dished out buffet-style, with volunteers from the congregation standing behind each station to help. Members of the congregation prepared all the food, as well. Steve Wilson, one of the congregation’s elders, was head chef, and made sure all of the food was ready in time. The menu consisted of traditional thanksgiving food: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, carrots, yams and rolls.
“It’s a little hectic right now, but it’s going well,” Wilson said. “We’ve had about 200 people come in just the first 40 minutes.”
Along with the dinner menu, there was a dessert cart being rolled around the room, full of pies and many cans of whipped cream. Apple tart, brownies, and blueberry pie were favorites among the dessert cart. The children in attendance had the option of ice cream cones, as well.
Bob and Muriel Mandia took over the planning of the event about 24 years ago, and were in charge every year until they moved to a different church a few years ago.
“Our first date was actually sitting down and planning the Thanksgiving menu,” Muriel said.
Though the couple is no longer a part of the congregation, they always attend to show their support and help in any way they can. The hospitality of the church and the spirit of the Thanksgiving season is the same as when she was in charge, according to Muriel.
“The community always provided everything,” Muriel said. “Every time we needed something, like gravy, someone would come walking into the room with gravy.”
The room was filled with old friends talking and laughing, and any silence was filled by the church’s band. Members of the congregation were playing instruments and singing religious music. Once the band finished, around 6 p.m., Pastor Steve Sherwood gave a few words about the event.
“We’ve had a lot of people preparing a long time for this,” Pastor Sherwood said in his speech. “I just wanted to say welcome from Clintondale Christian Church, we’re glad you’re here. We love our community and this is why we’re doing this.”
Sherwood has only been Pastor at Clintondale Christian Church for the past year, and was worried when his congregation said they wanted to put on the Thanksgiving dinner event. After discussing the details, he decided to trust his congregation, and is glad he did. According to him, there’s a big chance the church continues on with this tradition.
“It’s amazing, we never run out of food although people keep coming in and it’s tremendous to see this community here,” Pastor Sherwood said. “I’m looking around and maybe 25% of these people are of our church and the rest are the community.”