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Ministering to the community, beginning with meals

The aroma of roasting turkey and prayers of thanksgiving are both sure to be plentiful Thursday at the 12th annual Doug Sullivan Community Thanksgiving lunch hosted by First United Methodist Church.

Hundreds of free meals will be dished out at the church’s ministry center from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Just as many or more will be hand delivered with a smile and a prayer, if permitted.

“We find a lot of people are willing to let us pray with them,” said Jennifer Calhoun, missions director at FUMC and the organizer of the Thanksgiving lunch for more than a decade.

Through talking to people and praying with them while delivering meals, they find ways to minister to the community.

“Every year, we find some kind of need that needs to be taken care of,” she said.

Volunteers also take meals to prisoners at the Lincoln County Jail as well as the jailers and those working at the sheriff’s office, Brookhaven Police Department and the Brookhaven Fire Department.

The personal touch of the delivery has become a large part of the ministry.

“It’s very rewarding to know that there are people who have a meal who might not have gotten one,” Calhoun said.

Brookhaven Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan — the event is named for her late husband — has vowed to remain involved in the ministry as long as there are hungry people in Brookhaven to feed.

“I think there will always be that need,” she said.

She’s involved with it not so much because it’s her husband’s legacy, but also because it’s following Jesus’ teachings.

“It’s the right thing to do. I think it’s one of the best missions that FUMC does,” she said. “We’re honoring God and what he’s commanding us to do.”

Over time, the event has developed into a community affair. Students from Brookhaven High School and Alexander Junior High School spend the month of November collecting canned sweet potatoes and green beans to give to the church, and the art students at BHS design colorful placemats to brighten up the FUMC Ministry Center. Students at West Lincoln Attendance Center and Mississippi School of the Arts collect cranberry sauce.

To enjoy a hot meal and some company, visit the FUMC ministry center at 212 South Jackson St. behind the Brookhaven Post Office. To have a meal delivered, call and leave a message at the church office at 601-833-3519 or Calhoun at 601-695-0600.