Faith, fellowship, and a whole lot of turkey warmed bellies and hearts during Emporia Church of Christ’s annual community Thanksgiving meal Thursday.

Pastor Neil Taylor said a steady crowd started showing up early to the church, located at 12th Avenue and Neosho Street, prompting volunteers to open the doors a little earlier than expected.

“It’s been nonstop in here since about 10:40 a.m.,” he said.

Taylor said enough food was prepared to serve around 600 people, with Thanksgiving staples like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, on the menu.

The meal was the product of months of work involving everyone in the congregation in some way.

“Whether it’s planning, whether it’s shopping, whether it’s cooking, it really takes a group of about 50-60 people working as a cohesive unit to make sure everything is in place,” Taylor said. “It’s more than just this one day to make this happen. It’s been going pretty strong for a few months.”

Taylor said there is a lot of need in the community, which is why the church continues to offer the meal every year.

“I would say probably half the people that are here are eating because they need food,” he said. “The other half are here because they need fellowship.”

Taylor shared that he had just visited with a man who came to the meal because he had no family closeby.

“He was very happy to have a meal and have some fellowship and not eat alone today,” he said, adding that it was the church putting Christ’s words into action. “It’s a way to live out what Jesus showed us.”

Taylor said that is the most important part of the mission.

“This is us putting our faith into action, that’s the important thing,” he said. “We as Christians can be at home watching football and filling our stomachs, or we could be doing this instead. This is us putting our faith into action and living out what we believe.”

Those who wish to help support the mission can help in a number of ways, whether it’s by volunteering or putting money toward the meals.

“We’ll take help in a lot of different ways,” Taylor said.

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