Vicki Burns, member of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, had her hands full Sunday.
The church is between ministers, she said. Former pastor Bob Woods is in the process of relocating to northern California, and incoming pastor Virginia Taylor won’t begin her work in Craig until mid-December.
As such, Burns led the sermon Sunday morning.
She also cooked a 28-pound turkey for parishioners and members of the community.
Later, she would wash dishes.
“I just like cooking turkey,” Burns said. “I’ve done it for five or six years now.”
For more than 30 years, the church has been hosting a turkey dinner on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. This year’s event brought together 36 members of the congregation and six members of the community for a meal that included the classics: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and more.
Despite the traditional fixings, the meal took place on a nontraditional day of the week.
Burns said there is a simple reason to hold the meal on Sunday.
“That way we can all be with our regular families on Thanksgiving Day, and we can be with our church family on the Sunday before Thanksgiving,” she said.
Church member Delaine Voloshin said all members of the congregation contribute dishes for the meal.
“I brought the potatoes,” she said. “So many people bring fancy stuff, I thought, ‘Maybe I should just do something simple.’”
Burns said preparing turkey for so many people is no great challenge.
“I come from a big family, so this is no big deal,” Burns said.
Church member Richard Maxson said the free meal gives the church exposure to the community.
“We have free meals for the public, and sometimes they’ll come in, eat dinner, like what they see, and join the church.”
Shortly before the noontime bells struck in the church bell tower, the congregation formed a circle around two long tables with place settings for 48. They grasped each other’s hands and bowed their heads.
Burns led the prayer.
“We thank you, Lord, for the times we have together, we thank you for the many blessings that we share as individuals and as of members of this church,” Burns said. “We are united. We will stand strong. We hope that the world has the peace and unity that we have in this congregation.
“Bless the hands that prepared this food, and bless it to the nourishment of our bodies. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.”