By Darlene L. Williams, Contributing Writer

(BAKERSFIELD, CA.) — Thursday, November 18, 2021, Jerusalem  Mission Community Church(JMCC) served an early Thanksgiving dinner to the southeast community of Bakersfield. The dinner began at 12:00 noon and was expected to conclude whenever the last meal was served.    

Every year around Thanksgiving about five of us women get together at the church and start to prepare the meal two days in advance, Cleo Stancil, organizer and JMCC Mission President, stated.  Last year we served about 350 people, she said. 

The event was expected to match or even exceed those served the previous year. 

Several tables and chairs were set up in the large parking lot of the church. As the aromatic smells floated through the air, passers-by began arriving to enquire about the event.  Favorable weather allowed attendees to dine out under the beautiful sunny blue skies and feast on savory: turkey and dressing, green beans, corn, spaghetti, potato salad, rolls, peach cobbler, various cakes and cold drinks.

Volunteer, Ms. Mae stated, “I live in this neighborhood and I’m not doing anything, so I came out to help today.”

 About 20 volunteers from JMCC and other churches came out to help serve meals to anyone who opted to stay and dine out in the church parking lot, while others transported meals to the homeless in various parks throughout the city and surrounding community.  

The southeast Bakersfield church, located on Cottonwood Road, is not a novice when it comes to the ministry of serving others in the community. For the past six years they have cooked, served, and transported meals to those who could not physically come to the church to partake in the festivities.  

JMCC does not only serve the community during the holiday season, but they serve meals and participate in other forms of ministry throughout the year to help the community and those in need.

JMCC, Pastor Freddie Thomas II, explained, “The church is not just here for the spiritual needs, but for the natural as well, because, oftentimes; the community is always in need of something. The government or governing body can only do so much, they’re limited when it comes to funding, or politics, or there’s always something that possibly gets in the way that limits what they can do for the people.” 

 “It’s always something that the people need, but they’re not getting it in a timely fashion. So, the church is of the community to try to help alleviate that emotionally, naturally, and spiritually,” Thomas further explained. 

According to FeedingAmerica.org (The nation’s largest domestic-hunger relief organization) “Due to the pandemic, food insecurity in the Black Community increased.  An estimated 24% of the black community experienced food in insecurities in 2020. Black Children are almost three times more likely to live in a food- insecure household than white children.”  

While these statistics are alarming, countless churches and organizations in Kern County work tirelessly and consistently to end food insecurities and homelessness on a daily basis.

“It’s nice to know that it’s people out here to help you,” Joseph, an attendee, said; as he sat down to eat.

 “It’s just a blessing to bless someone else,” First Lady, Dorothy Thomas, organizer (JMCC) said.” We cannot complain; God is good.”   

Special thanks to volunteers: Marilyn Gupton, Mae Spears, Peggy Sconiers, Sylvia Turner, Carolyn Rice, Loretta Oats, Joyce Asberry and many others who contributed to the event. At the time of this article, 

Bakersfield News Observer did not have information or locations of other Thanksgiving meals that may have been served on this day or in the coming week(s) in Kern County.