As Thanksgiving nears, several Tennessee congregations will be contributing to a program that aims to feed thousands of people in their community.
The fifth annual “Feeding the Multitude,” an interdenominational program coordinated by Stevens Street Baptist Church of Cookeville, Tenn., aims to give 16,000 people a meal for Thanksgiving.
Rick Lowhorn, minister of Outreach and Christian Development at SSBC, explained the origins of the program.
“FTM was started as a result of the ministers of SSBC coming up with simple ways that the community as a whole could be impacted with the love of Christ,” said Lowhorn on Tuesday.
“One of the ministers knew of a church that had done a free meal for the needy on Thanksgiving and had been able to feed over a thousand people in need, but the desire of SSBC was to impact not only the needy but everyone in the community if possible.”
Growth in the program came quickly. In its first year, FTM gave out 1,500 meals and was organized solely by SSBC.
Last year, the fourth annual Feeding the Multitude, some 9,000 meals were delivered within a half an hour of their preparation. This year ,over 20 churches will be helping out.
“We have been challenged as the Lord grows this beyond us,” said Lowhorn.
“Last year we did everything at no cost to the church budget. All cost was covered by giving to the purpose of this event.”
As supplies are gathered and thousands of volunteers prepared, Lowhorn noted the ultimate reason for doing this annual event.
“People wonder why are we doing this and what wider door of opportunity to share could we ask for?” said Lowhorn.
“We are demonstrating the amazing grace of God to them.”
Friendship Church of God, a small congregation of around a hundred members, is one of the many congregations sending volunteers to help with FTM.
Tom Pelt, transitional pastor for Friendship Church, felt a strongly about his church contributing to the program.
“The Church has a vision to make a tangible difference in the lives of the needy in this community,” said Pelt, who mentioned that about a dozen of Friendship Church members would be volunteering.
“We are better together,” said Pelt, who noted that with more churches involved in FTM, the program “can make a larger impact.”
Mike Head, associate pastor for administration at First Baptist Church of Cookeville, said his congregation has been involved in FTM for four years and that around 200 members of his church would be involved in some capacity.
“Jesus said that we are to reach out in His name to those in need, but also to reach out with a message of God's love for them,” said Head.
“It also brings a smile to a vast majority of those being served as well as those who take the meals to them.”
Feeding the Multitude will be making its deliveries on Tuesday, Nov. 22, from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.