CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories
HED: Giving thanks
By Eileen Bailey
An estimated crowd of 300 people gathered Thursday morning at White Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Tupelo to offer thanks through prayer, song and offerings for the needy.
Residents from different faiths across Lee County attended the 20th annual Community Thanksgiving Service sponsored by the Lee County Multi-Racial Committee and the Greater Tupelo Ministerial Association.
Daisy Copeland has attended the Community Thanksgiving Service every year.
The 63-year-old member of Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church said she enjoys all aspects of the program.
"I love the singing, preaching and speaking," she said as she left the service.
George Thorn, 73, and a member of White Hill Missionary Baptist Church, said he also enjoyed attending Thursday's service.
"I love that people are getting together," Thorn said.
The service also had a special meaning for the Rev. Bill Smith, who is the director of missions for the Lee County Baptist Association and a member of Calvary Baptist Church. Smith gave the Thanksgiving message 20 years ago at the first communitywide service.
"Relationships (in the community) have changed. We have come a long way but we still have a long way to go," the 63-year-old said. "I am glad I can say I had a part in it (Thursday's service)."
During Thursday's message, Smith asked congregation members to look at what they've been given in their lives and how they share it with others.
"My generation is blessed more than any other generation in the history of time," he said, because it has come from the depths of the Depression to a thriving economy in 1998.
"But we have to ask ourselves what will we do with our inheritance to make a better Thanksgiving for everyone to come," Smith said.
In a passionate voice, Smith quoted Scripture and reminded the congregation that God doesn't want those who had inherited to lead a self-serving life.
"God has given us gifts and asked us to be responsible and to share those gifts with others," he said.
It is greed that "sucks the life out of man," Smith said. There are a lot of people, he said, who would take it easy with the inheritance they have been given and not worry about their neighbors.
"We live in a society that is well-blessed," he said. And it is up to a society that has been blessed to determine how it will help others, he said.
Rev. Ron Barham, president of the Greater Tupelo Ministerial Association, said he was pleased with the turnout at the service.
"It is a blessing to be with the diversity of others who wish to give thanks," Barham said.
Barham said the offering taken at Thursday's service will go to the Greater Tupelo Ministerial Association's Good Samaritan Service.
This service is designed to help those in the community who are in need, Barham said.
"Since welfare reform went into place two-and-a-half years ago we have seen a five-fold increase in the requests for assistance," Barham said. "There is a great need in our community."
The service uses the assistance of the Salvation Army to serve those in need, he said.