Community Thanksgiving Dinner sponsored by California Ministerial Alliance

Turkey, dressing, mashed and sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pie and other sides and desserts were served at the Thanksgiving meal sponsored by the California Ministerial Alliance held Thursday, Nov. 24 at the California Nutrition Center.

Turkey, dressing, mashed and sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pie and other sides and desserts were served at the Thanksgiving meal sponsored by the California Ministerial Alliance held Thursday, Nov. 24 at the California Nutrition Center. Photo by John Inman.

A spirit of fellowship and thanksgiving was present at the California Nutrition Center Thursday, Nov. 24, during the Thanksgiving meal sponsored by the California Ministerial Alliance. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, desserts and other delicious sides were served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the center.

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Lindsey, left, and Mitchell Rosslan, right, helps deliver a Thanksgiving meal and dessert to Moniteau County Jail Officer Steve Brougham.

Many came out to enjoy the free meal donated by the alliance and cooked by California Nutrition Center Cook Teressa Liebi while others including those involved with emergency services who were stuck at work or homebound had meals delivered to them by volunteers. Rev. Linda Pagel, pastor at California United Methodist Church, has been involved with the dinner for four years and helped coordinate the event.

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Bailey, left, and Madison Schaver, Ste. Genevieve, enjoy the Thanksgiving meal sponsored by the California Ministerial Alliance held Thursday, Nov. 24 at the California Nutrition Center.

"My first year I did not know what to expect," Pagel said. "I came to volunteer and was just overwhelmed by the spirit of joy and fellowship both from those helping or coming to enjoy the meal. Over the years we have had more come and the crowd has grown which is good. I enjoy seeing people who come to the dinner for the first time and they are not sure if they are going to know anyone or how they will be received and they find someone to talk to and have a good meal which fills their belly and a good time of fellowship around the table which nourishes their soul. They come out of the meal with a big smile on their face."

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California students who helped serve drinks at the Community Thanksgiving meal, from left, are Nathalie Sluyter, Monica Whitson and Bailey Wehmeir.

Pagel said for her it has been a blessing to be a part of the meal. Becky Forsythe has worked at the 911 Center as a dispatcher for a number of years and has had the meal delivered to her on a number of occasions.

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California residents who helped pack to-go meals to deliver to those stuck at work or homebound, from left, are Jenny Wehmeir, Peggy Taylor and Alicia Whitson.

"It means a lot having the meal delivered to us," Forsythe said. "It really does. I do not mind working on Thanksgiving. But I do miss my family. For them to prepare all this and think about us is very meaningful. I am very appreciative of it. I am thankful for them thinking of us."

Pagel said various churches which make up the Alliance donate the food. They provide the meal as a service to the community. Separately, they do place a donation jar for those wishing to donate to Alliance's benevolence fund.

"We do appreciate the donations people are able to give which can range from a dollar to $100," Pagel said. "The Alliance uses all the money given to help others in the community. It might help pay someone's electric bill, provide a scholarship to a graduating senior or an emergency night in the hotel for someone who is a victim of domestic violence. The Ministerial Alliance helps the community in a number of ways in addition to providing spiritual support."

Pagel said as people's spirits and bodies are nourished their souls are nourished as well through friendships and relationships being started or growing. She added sometimes a family will gather around a table or in other cases she has seen a table of singles or tables mixed with both.

Going forward the Ministerial Alliance will continue sponsoring the food pantry currently located at California United Methodist Church or helping with the Food Bank deliveries currently being held at the California Eagles. Ministers of the various churches in the Alliance will be called upon this season with those needing spiritual support during the holiday season.

"I hope all can find a church home," Pagel said. "A place to worship and a way to look forward to the coming of Christ and just focus on the secular parts of the holiday. I appreciate the opportunity to serve the community. It is a blessing to be a part of this community and see how well the churches and individuals work so well together with such a wonderful spirit. Being a part of the Thanksgiving meal is one of the most fun things I do during the year."

For more information about the Ministerial Alliance, call Pagel at 573-796-2792.

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