Feeding more than 2,000: Pastors partner for Thanksgiving Celebration

Published 1:00 am Wednesday, November 20, 2019

LAPLACE — Last year, the Inaugural St. John Pastor’s Coalition Thanksgiving Celebration fed more than 2,000 people and blessed 1,000 families with Thanksgiving turkeys. The overwhelming success of the event prompted the 26 pastors to join forces and feed the masses once again.

The Second Annual Thanksgiving Celebration will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24 at New Wine Christian Fellowship on the East Bank and at West St. John Elementary on the West Bank.

All in need of a holiday blessing are invited to join the St. John Parish pastors for a hearty sit down meal. The tables will be set for 2,000 guests on the East Bank and 300 guests on the West Bank, according to Pastor Neil Bernard of New Wine Christian Fellowship.

Meals include barbecue chicken, green beans, dirty rice, dinner rolls, drinks and dessert. The St. John Pastor’s Coalition is additionally giving away 1,000 turkeys with fixings to needy families during the event.

Shuttle transportation to New Wine will be available from overflow parking at Winn-Dixie on Airline Highway in LaPlace.

“We felt that together, we can do so much more as a way of showing unity to our community and coming together to help so many needy families,” Bernard said. “This year, we are planning to extend it a little bit further. We’ve invited all of our elected officials to come out on that day as we serve hundreds of families. We’ve gotten a great response from several agencies that want to come out and send volunteers to serve. I think it’s going to go over very well.”

Local pastors sit down tog of St. John. Photo credit: Susanne Karst.ether to plan the second annual Thanksgiving Celebration, which will feed thousands of families on the East and West banks

Personal invitations go out to the St. John Parish Council on Aging and local nursing homes. Pastors are reaching out to needy families and advertising the event on social media to ensure everyone has a chance to attend.

Such a massive undertaking wouldn’t be possible without support from the community. Sponsors for the 2020 Thanksgiving Celebration include Marathon Oil Company, Denka Performance Elastomer, St. John United Way, Pelican Point Car Wash, St. John Parish Administration, St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. John Parish Schools, District Attorney Bridget A. Dinvaut, Assessor Lucien Gauff III and State Representative Randal Gaines.

Of course, members of the 26 participating churches are pitching in to help serve the meals.

Pastor Donald August Sr. of Rising Star Baptist Church said there was more than enough food for everyone at the 2018 event, and he expects this year will be the same.

“It’s a very successful event,” August said. “We have great participation from the churches and local faith-based organizations. Last year, we had 125 to 150 volunteers. This year, we may be close to 150 again. People are volunteering to support the project, so we are excited about it.”

The St. John Pastor’s Coalition was formed after Hurricane Katrina and before Hurricane Isaac as a means to help the community in the event of disaster. Churches have partnered or other events in the years since, including a relief fund for Bayou Steel employees impacted by layoffs.

The Thanksgiving Celebration is the largest event the group has organized.

Pastor Nick Peppo of Mission Church of LaPlace is excited to participate again.

“I thought the event was incredible last year, and I look forward to another great event this year,” Peppo said. “I love working with the pastors in St. John Parish. I think it blessed all of us to work together last year.”

Pastor Alfreda DeVare of Revelation Knowledge Outreach Center said it was important for her to participate in the Thanksgiving Celebration because the Bible says, “Give thanks to God for all the marvelous things he has done.”

“It is a blessing when pastors of this parish can come together in unity during the Thanksgiving season and bless the residents with a hot meal,” DeVare said. “I think this is what God’s word is about, giving back, being thankful and blessing others.”

For more information, please call New Wine Christian Fellowship at 985-653-0008.