Church blesses community with Christmas Day dinner

Lenoir volunteers continue 15-year tradition of hosting "Feed the People" to celebrate Christ's birth

Chris Gaines, a deacon at The Life Center in Lenoir, North Carolina, gets a lot of joy in preparing the community Christmas Day dinner, which is free to anyone looking for a good, hot meal. "I get to help people in need," he says. "We have a lot to give—not a log of people do." Photo: Lenoir News-Topic, Virginia Annable

How much food does it take to prepare a meal for 150 people? According to Terry Hunt, pastor at The Life Center (TLC) in Lenoir, North Carolina, it takes seven turkeys, five hams, 10 cans of green beans, five cans of corn, 10 boxes of rice and a pot of gravy, not to mention the many rolls, cakes, pies and drinks the church serves to guests on Christmas Day.

These are the meal preparations made by members of the congregation for TLC’s annual “Feed the People” event, a free meal the church has served on Christmas Day the past 15 years to help meet both physical and spiritual needs in Lenoir and the surrounding communities.

“Feed the People” began when Sam Dula, a deacon at TLC, and his family saw a need for food for people in Lenoir and the surrounding communities.

“Children complain that when school is out over the Christmas holidays there are times when there is not enough food in their homes,” says Hunt, who also serves as the North Carolina district minister. “The thought and intent of this event is to provide a good, hot meal on Christmas Day in the name of Jesus on the day we celebrate his birth.”

It takes about 20 volunteers to orchestrate the event, including those who bake and carve the ham and turkey, wash dishes and deliver takeout to people unable to come and the youth who pack bags of groceries to give away.

TLC also collects new and slightly used clothing, shoes and coats to give away twice every year, including at its “Feed the People” meal.

Hunt says the purpose of “Feed the People” is three-fold: to combat hunger by providing a free, hot meal; to show care for people’s needs as commanded in Matthew 25:31-46; and ultimately, to introduce people to Jesus. Each meal guest is invited to visit The Life Center the following Sunday.

In 2018, TLC served more than 120 meals and gave away 30 bags of groceries.

Hunt says the church plans to continue its “Feed the People” meal, with a goal of serving 250 meals in 2019 and 500 in 2020.

“The response from the communities that we serve has been one with gratitude and thankfulness, especially in our homeless communities,” Hunt says. “We put out flyers where we know they frequent with information where the church van will pick them up. To top it off, we had a couple that attended the event come the following Sunday, receive Christ and join the church. We will be baptizing them soon. Praise the Lord.”


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