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For 11 years, Christ Town Ministries has hosted a community Thanksgiving dinner

By Cheri Harris

The community Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Christ Town Ministries has grown from a true potluck to a well-planned feast.


Laura Wells, wife of Christ Town founder Pastor Bob Wells, said all Thanksgiving morning she had been feeling nostalgic about that first dinner in 2002.

She said aback then, the ministry had 60 residents and people started asking what the ministry was going to do for Thanksgiving. Her answer: “I don’t know.”

When her phone started ringing, she said she just asked people to bring something if they wanted to. At that first Thanksgiving gathering, she said opening up the foil-covered dishes was like opening Christmas presents.

“It was so amazing in what God had done,” she said.

As if it had been planned, Wells said all the elements of a Thanksgiving feast were on the table.

“We would just pull back that foil and go, ‘Wow!’ It was just awesome.”

For the past five years, Jan Bates has been organizing the dinner with volunteer support from area churches and other organizations.

Now, Wells said Bates’ organizational and cooking skills make her say, “Wow!”

Debbie Wert of Havana, a member of First Presbyterian Church of Quincy, said she and her husband, Bill, don’t have family in the area so for the past five years they have volunteered at the Christ Town dinner.

She said Bates has everything planned out with the main dishes cooked from her recipes at First Presbyterian’s kitchen and transported to Christ Town.

“She tells us what to do,” Wert said. “She runs it.”

Donna Soderlund and her daughter, Kaile, of Crawfordville, said they have been volunteering for Christ Town’s Thanksgiving dinner about five years.

Soderlund said they first heard about the event and volunteer opportunity on a Christian radio station.

Kaile Soderlund said she likes volunteering every year.

“I guess I enjoy helping people,” she said.

Cassie Berry of Quincy attends church services at Christ Town and she usually comes every year to the community Thanksgiving dinner.

“The food is off the chain,” she said. “It’s a blessing just to be here. God is good all the time, and Pastor Bob believes in helping the community.” 

Other churches and organizations involved in this community Thanksgiving dinner include: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Centenary United Methodist Church, West End Grille, Cook Brothers Inc., and the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office.

Times Executive Editor Cheri Harris can be reached at 850-627-7649 or editor@gadcotimes.com.