Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Reaches 25-Year Milestone

by Elizabeth Pitts-Hibbard

November 21, 2019

Hundreds of residents are expected to partake in the annual Thanksgiving dinner, now in its 25th year. The event, held at First Baptist Church Life Center since 2005, has become a tradition in Stephens County.

“[We] come together on Thanksgiving Day to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings the Lord has provided,” said Jim Spurlock, who with his wife Pam has been one of the organizers since the interdenominational community event moved to the Baptist church.

When the tradition began in 1995 it was hosted at First Christian Church in Marlow under the direction of Jack Taylor. “Thousands of hot meals were served throughout the first decade,” Spurlock said. “Although many were quick to donate funds to the project, an aging volunteer cooking [and] serving staff were in desperate need of relief.” The church was unable to continue hosting the event and announced that the tradition would not continue.

Harbour Whitaker, Publisher of the Marlow Review at the time, said in an Editor’s Letter that “It has become harder and harder to find workers who are willing to tear themselves away from their own family gatherings to help with the preparations for this needy cause. It’s like so many other worthy ventures – great ideas, but finding the bodies necessary to pull them off can be a trick in itself.”

Just a week later, however, Whitaker celebrated the fact that the congregation of First Baptist Church agreed to take the project on. “In the true spirit of giving to others, the Marlow community has once again shown how much they care about others, regardless of their religious affiliation,” Whitaker wrote.

Since then the event has continued at the FBC Life Center under the direction of the Spurlocks. “It has become a tradition for our family as well as many others,” Pam Spurlock said. “But it is really the blessing we get every time we witness how God uses a simple meal to touch someone’s life. Sometimes all they really need tis just to know they are not forgotten and someone cares.”

The church anticipates serving over 1,000 people this year. The meals are prepared starting the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and turkeys go into the oven just after midnight on Thanksgiving day. “Meals are served 11:30 to 1:30 on Thanksgiving day,” Spurlock said. “Several hundred deliveries are made to homebound residents of the county. Deliveries start at 10:30am and continue for several hours. And volunteers are always sure to prepare enough food to serve those incarcerated in Stephens County jail.”

A large volunteer force is required to make the event a success. The organizers suggest that volunteers come around 10am. “Those unable to serve but desiring to help can bring prepared dishes to the Life center by 10am Thanksgiving day,” Spurlock said. “Clean-up crew is asked to arrive by 1pm.” Financial donations are also accepted at the church office.

Those needing meals delivered may call the church office at 658-5413 to make arrangements.