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Sacramento Congregations Host Thanksgiving Dinners for Community Members in Need

Many of our Synod's congregations team up with other nonprofits or worshipping communities around the Thanksgiving season to provide meals for those in need. Three congregations in Sacramento, ranging in size and location, each hosted their own Thanksgiving Meal to serve their local community. Here's what the different meals looked like!

Advent Lutheran Church

Citrus Heights, CA

Written by Pastor Gabi Schroeder: "The members of Advent Lutheran Church, like so many SPS congregations, are aging and the congregation is smaller every year. This does not stop them, though, from impacting the surrounding community in BIG ways. The area around Citrus Heights, a suburb of Sacramento, is very diverse – with resettled populations from Eastern Europe, Syria and Iraq, and Afghanistan. Some 50 percent of housing in the city is low-to-middle income rental housing. The area has been hard-hid by the decline of retail stores and its local mall. Hence, there are many hungry people in need of supplemental food supplies. At the same time, a large percentage of food banks in the area have closed. One of the few food banks that have been growing, Sunrise Christian Food Ministry (SCFM), is housed and supported by Advent Lutheran Church. Originally co-founded by the congregation, it is now is sustained by some 28 local churches. Typically, SCFM serves about 90-100 households each day, 5 days a week, all done by volunteer staff. Last week, with the help of many outside volunteers, SCFM hosted a massive drive-through event and gave away over 2,300 meal kits for Thanksgiving – each containing a frozen turkey, dry goods, instant mashed potatoes, gravy, dessert ingredients, and canned vegetables. Advent is grateful that we are able to serve, in small but meaningful ways, as God’s hand in this world. When we serve our hungry, lonely, and unhoused neighbors, God shapes us into the people we are created to be. It is a win-win solution for all: hungry people receive healthy food and the faith commitment of those who serve them is deepened. We are grateful for this and many other opportunities to use our assets and facility creatively and to the benefit of neighbors in need."

Community Lutheran Church

West Sacramento, CA

Community Lutheran Church in West Sacramento is a cherished member of the Mercy Coalition, a nonprofit based in West Sacramento started and supported by 12 interfaith congregations looking to embrace and support those impacted by homelessness. The nonprofit, with the support of congregations, began a Winter Warming Shelter to house people during the coldest nights of the year. This also gave folk an opportunity to gather as a community over a warm meal, late-night conversation, and the comfort of sleeping indoors. In addition to the warming shelters, the Mercy Coalition has launched a variety of other programs that strive to feed and house folk in West Sacramento, and are partnering with local social service organizations to strive for a sustainable future for those they serve.

Like many things, the Mercy Coalition continually adapts to put the health and safety of others at the top of all they do. The warming shelters and large indoor meals have been placed on hold for the last year and a half, but this Thanksgiving, they were able to invite a few folk in for a smaller community meal. On Wednesday, November 24th, around 15 individuals in need and volunteers from the Mercy Coalition gathered at Community Lutheran Church to join together for a meal.

The pews were pushed to the walls, one large table was set-up for all to eat together, and the community gathered and were fed. Learn more about Community Lutheran Church and their partnership with Mercy Coalition here.

St. John's Lutheran Church

Downtown Sacramento, CA

St. John's Lutheran Church in downtown Sacramento has a long-standing history of feeding their community members in need the week of Thanksgiving. Typically, the congregation invites folks into their Community Center for a seated dinner, serving folk restaurant-style and engaging in meaningful conversations. But with the desire to stay cautious and serve people safely, the congregation adapted to hand-out to-go dinners in front of the church!

On Monday, November 22nd, around 250 Thanksgiving Dinners were handed out to community members in need. Members from the congregation graciously donated pounds of turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberries, gravy, rolls, pie, water, milk and coffee to distribute. The line of people there to receive the food wrapped around the corner and remained steady for nearly 2 hours of distribution!

Around 20 volunteers helped on Monday preparing and serving food, with dozens more volunteers working at-home and behind-the-scenes cooking food to donate. This beloved St. John's tradition may have looked a bit different this year, but nevertheless, served community members in need and brought the warmth of a Thanksgiving meal to many.

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