By Kara Witherow, Editor
Thanksgiving, traditionally a day of food, football, and family, was, for one Albany church, about something a little different this year.
More than 100 people spent part of their Thanksgiving giving thanks at Avalon United Methodist Church’s Thanksgiving Day Prayer Vigil.
For nine hours, from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., members of the church and others from the community prayed in shifts for at least 30 minutes. They prayed for the church, the city, their families, those in need, and gave thanks for all that God has done in their lives. Church member Harold Smith, who helped organize the vigil, says there is much to be thankful for.
“We take too much for granted,” he said. “The Lord provides so much to us that we just assume that it will always be that way. The whole concept was really to zero in on all that God does that we just don’t think about and don’t give thanks for. By taking time out of a day that is usually about food and football we were saying, let’s put prayer and the Lord number one, not food and football.”
A wooden altar was built and set up on the church’s lawn, signs telling motorists what they were doing and inviting them to stop and join were made and displayed, and prayer cards with scripture verses were handed out.
Rev. Debbie Cone was appointed to Avalon UMC in June and has emphasized prayer to the congregation since she arrived.
It was heartening to see so many from the church and community give up part of their holiday to spend committed time in prayer, she said, and it’s one way the congregation can follow Jesus’ lead.
“Jesus prayed more than he did anything else while he was here, and that gives us a good example – the best example – of what He wants us to do and how to join him in what He’s doing, and then He will add to the church daily,” Rev. Cone said. “I want the church to hear from God and for us to do what it is that God has called us to do.”
Avalon UMC still has much to be thankful for even after a summer windstorm knocked a 30-foot section of the steeple off the church, Smith says.
The congregation took the broken steeple and filled it with pumpkins, gourds, corn, and other produce so it resembled a cornucopia, and placed it on the church’s front lawn. With a sign that read, “Giving Thanks to God,” it reminded them and passers-by of God’s goodness and provision.
“We go through rough times, but the Lord is always there,” Smith said. “The steeple may be down, but our spirits are up.”