Churches join to give thanks

Published 8:20 am Friday, November 27, 2015

In what organizers hoped to be the first of many, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church hosted the first ecumenical Thanksgiving service Tuesday night.

Along with St. Matthew’s, ministers and congregations of ESM Methodist Church and First Presbyterian Church participated in the activities.

Those who attended were requested to bring food items for the local food bank. The participating ministers accepted and blessed the items. Bogalusa Help Center Director Gene Hayman expressed his thanks to those who donated to assist the area needy.

“When I was younger, I left Bogalusa and then returned. I returned and looked for something to keep me busy,” Hayman said. “We were blessed to be able to use the facilities here to provide food for those who need help. It was a blessing that the Lord took a little boy and brought me back to do some good.”

The Bogalusa Help Center is in its 28th year of helping the area’s needy. Hayman said the center assists 500 families each month. The center has an all-volunteer staff.

“We’re blessed to be able to provide food for the needy every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon,” Hayman said. “What you do for needy folks is a wonderful mission.”

St. Matthew’s minister, the Rev. LeBaron Taylor, welcomed those who attended.

“I hope this is the first of many services,” Taylor said. “We’re not going to follow any particular faith; this is an ecumenical service where everybody is involved.”

Taylor said future ecumenical services will rotate among participating churches. Pastors of host churches will not preach.

“It’s obvious to me you all had Ephesians 45 in mind. That there is one Lord, one faith, one God, one baptism and father of all,” Taylor said. “We must be mindful that Jesus did not start a denomination. We hope this will help us come together to look beyond denominations.”

ESM pastor, the Rev. Bill Moon, delivered the sermon. In it, he referred to the Book of Psalms, and specifically Psalms 100, where it says to make a joyful noise.

Moon also gave a brief history of Thanksgiving in the United States, from the time the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock to modern day. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving.

“It’s been quite a journey for our people. Everything we have and hope to do is a gift from God,” Moon said. “The only appropriate response from us is gratitude. Thanksgiving should lead to praise. And praise should lead to generosity.”