An ecumenical and interfaith Community Thanksgiving Service will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Representatives from several local families of faith will lead the service, a mass choir will sing, and the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Spangler Kimmel from University Baptist Church will bring the message.
An offering will be received to support the Breadbasket food assistance ministry, a shared ministry supported by nine different houses of worship in Hattiesburg.
In the first six months of 2019 alone, nearly 1,300 people were provided with a week's worth of food through this ministry.
For Westminster pastor, the Rev. Dr. Christopher Crotwell, gathering as a community is important, not just at Thanksgiving.
"For many people, me included, faith begins by experiencing grace,” said Crotwell. “It begins by recognizing the blessings, mercy, and compassion that have been given to us by God. It is to understand that life itself is grace and that life, including our own life, matters deeply to God.
“Such truths are not always easy to see. The world can be a tough place, but we who get to live where we do, in this country, and in this community filled with some of the kindest and most generous people in the world, are profoundly blessed.
Crotwell understands that we are surrounded by grace every day. When you see that, thankfulness enters in. Simply put, the appropriate response to grace is always to show gratitude. When we think of how encompassing God's grace is for us, then it only makes sense that the gratitude we offer in return isn't just a one time act, but instead becomes a way of life.
“That's how gratitude can become not just the starting point for our spiritual life, but can also shape our relationship with others and inspire us to love our neighbors.
“Grace. Gratitude. Community. Service.
“No matter our faith traditions, these concepts are important to us all. That's why something like a Community Thanksgiving Service isn't just about celebrating a holiday. It is really an opportunity for the wider community to come together around these basic and shared faith values so that we might rediscover common ground in the heart.
“Of course I hope everyone feels invited and welcomed at Westminster for this service. I hope this Thanksgiving service grows every year. I hope the relationships that are nurtured in our worship move out into the world together. None of us can truly live out our faith without others."
A reception with light refreshments will be held following the service.