BY SARAH R. GREGORY
Dozens gathered at the historic First Presbyterian Church on Monday evening for the annual Community Thanksgiving Worship Service.
Members of the Greeneville/Greene County Ministerial Association, a group of community ministers who meet regularly, sponsor and coordinate the service each year.
Mark Stokes, director of Religious Life, Church and Community Relations for Tusculum College, read from John 6:25-35 and delivered the sermon, titled "Simple Words."
Stokes, who is also a Commissioned Ruling Elder of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., told the story of a man who worked to sow "the seeds of gratitude."
He challenged the congregation to "be thankful for the blessings you have received," and "show gratitude as you approach this Thanksgiving holiday."
He especially urged the congregation to write thank-you notes to those who have helped them during their lives' journeys.
"You know in your heart that there is much to be grateful for and that there are many who have assisted you," he said.
"Use simple words to express your thanks. It will be life-changing not only for you, but for others as well."
He concluded by saying that a particular phrase of "simple words" was a group of "wonderful words to live your life by: 'Thank you, God, for the blessings of life.'"
In addition to Stokes, several others helped lead the worship service.
Dr. Dan Donaldson, minister of First Presbyterian Church and host pastor for the service, welcomed guests and opened the service with a prayer.
The congregation then sang the traditional Thanksgiving hymn "Now Thank We All Our God," and participated in a Thanksgiving Litany led by Carmen Ricker, executive director of the Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries Food Bank.
An offering, to be divided between the food bank and the Opportunity House, was taken.
Daniel Ricker, exective director of the Opportunity House, read Deuteronomy 26:1-11 after leading a prayer in which he said he was "thankful to live in a community where people care for each other."
Psalm 100 was then read by Jeb Schumacker, chairman of the board for the Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries Food Bank.
Shortly thereafter, members of the Tusculum College Community Chorus, directed by Dr. David Hendricksen and accompanied by James Winfree, performed "Jubilate Deo," based on a Latin translation of the same psalm.
The Tusculum College Community Chorus is a group of singers that meets each Monday evening on the Tusculum campus. The group does not require auditions, and welcomes all interested singers.
David Dalton, member of First Presbyterian Church, read Philippians 4:4-9, and two more hymns were sung.
After a benediction from Donaldson and an organ postlude from Winfree, the service concluded.
The Greeneville/Greene County Ministerial Association is the parent organization of both the Community Ministries Food Bank and the Opportunity House.
The association has also worked closely with AIDNET, which played a key role in recovery efforts following an outbreak of tornadoes in 2011.