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new gethsemane church richmond thanksgiving

Season’s feast coming to New Gethsemane Church

on November 21, 2011

There’s something special about the feast that’s set to happen Wednesday at New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ.

Everybody is welcome.

“It’s beautiful and it’s bountiful,” said Sister Rolland Bigbee, the organizer of the annual day-before-Thanksgiving event. “We are going to feast and give thanks to all.”

More than 500 diners are expected to gather Wednesday at the prominent local church for one of the city’s grandest feasts. A full traditional Thanksgiving meal including turkey, ham, yams and mashed potatoes will be provided for all who show. The feast will be from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. in New Gethsemane’s cafeteria.

The feasting may go on a few ticks past the scheduled close.

“We’ll go as long as people are hungry until everything is gone,” Bigbee said.

The tradition at New Gethsemane began years ago, but has grown drastically of late, Bigbee said, especially after a high-profile shooting brought the church national – but negative – attention.

“Not only have we put the shooting behind us, but in a strange way we actually have grown and become stronger as a church since the shooting.” Bigbee said.

In February 2010, 18-year-old Marcel Buggs interrupted a Sunday service by opening fire in the packed church hall. Buggs targeted young men from North Richmond, whose presence he regarded as infringement on his neighborhood. New Gethsemane is located in Central Richmond.

Two teenage brothers were wounded in the shooting, and a jury in July convicted Buggs of attempted murder and burglary, along with gang enhancements.

In the aftermath, church leaders, members of the congregation, and leaders of nearby churches banded together for a series of marches and rallies against violence.

Less than two years later, the church’s food programs are bigger than ever, and there is no shortage of volunteers. The need in Richmond, which has long struggled with poverty and unemployment, is ever present.

“It’s a diverse group on Thanksgiving,” Bigbee said. “We have a lot of homeless people and a lot of people who are alcoholics, drug addicts. But we also have a lot of families and single parents, working people, with children.”

Church members and volunteers, along with some people completing community service, will spend the day Tuesday in preparation, cooking turkeys and hams, dicing celery and preparing stuffing and other fixings.

Come Wednesday, no one will be left hungry.

“My message to everyone would be come out and eat with us,” Bigbee said. “Let’s all get together.”

Get involved in your community

More volunteers and people looking to do community service hours are welcome. Call 510-234-0655 or 510-620-9628 if interested.

New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ, 2100 Roosevelt


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