Seven CU connected churches gather for Thanksgiving meal; tradition began in 1998

Seven CU connected churches gather for Thanksgiving meal; tradition began in 1998

Nov. 23, 2010
For Immediate Release

Five of the seven pastors of the churches in the Taylor County Baptist Association who share an annual Thanksgiving meal and service together are from left: the Rev. Michael Goodwin, pastor of Salem Baptist Church; the Rev. John Chowning, pastor of Saloma Baptist Church; the Rev. Kyle Franklin, pastor of Mt. Roberts Baptist Church; Dr. James Jones, pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, where this year's service was held; and the Rev. Al Hardy, pastor of Good Hope Baptist Church. The Rev. Fred Miller, pastor of Mt. Gilboa Baptist Church, had to leave before the picture was taken. Friendship Baptist Church is without a pastor at the moment. (Campbellsville University Photo by Joan C. McKinney)

By Joan C. McKinney, news and publications coordinator

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Seven Taylor County Baptist churches, and their congregations, are continuing a Thanksgiving tradition that began in 1998 when church members, located in the northern part of Taylor County, get together for a potluck Thanksgiving meal and service.

About 300 persons from Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, this year’s host church; Saloma Baptist Church, Good Hope Baptist Church, Mt. Roberts Baptist Church, Mt. Gilboa Baptist Church, Salem Baptist Church and Friendship Baptist Church gathered Nov. 21 for food, fellowship and a sermon by the Rev. Kyle Franklin, pastor of Mt. Roberts.

All of the seven churches have pastors who are associated with Campbellsville University, and all of the money collected in the offering goes to the Taylor County Food Pantry.

The churches are also all members of the Taylor County Baptist Association which is the leading Baptist association in Kentucky in terms of Cooperative Program giving.

Though the locale may change, the message sent and received by the service is a loud one.

“It’s a wonderful experience,” said Dr. James Jones, pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. “We always go to our individual churches, and it’s good for people to get together from other churches.

“You realize you are not alone, and that there are other people out there.”

Jones’ church also hosted the meal last year as it was the first year for their building, but, in the past, the churches had rotated the location. However, only a few churches now are big enough to host the event; the first celebration had only 120 persons in attendance.

“The meal and service are a wonderful fellowship,” Jones said. “Our church really looks forward to it.

“It’s also good for the pastors to come together. It’s a good experience; we have good camaraderie among the other pastors and churches.”

The Rev. John Chowning, pastor of Saloma Baptist Church, said, “The people of the different congregations have a lot in common in terms of heritage, general location in the northern part of Taylor County and ongoing contacts.

“The service has become a means of fostering fellowship, unity of our Baptist family, expression of Thanksgiving and praise to God in all times and circumstances of life, and facilitating cooperation.

“The offering for the Taylor County Food Pantry is another way of expressing thanks to God for what He has done for us as well as helping provide for those who are in need.”

The Rev. Michael Goodwin, pastor of Salem Baptist Church, is chair of the Food Pantry, and he told the congregation it needs $1,000 a week to feed the needy which average about 67 families per week.

The Rev. Al Hardy, pastor of Good Hope Baptist Church, said it is a “wonderful feeling to see and get to know many Christians in other churches. All year it is nice to see folks from those churches who will stop you and say how much they enjoy the gatherings and look forward to it each year.”

Goodwin said the first service was with his church, Salem; Saloma and Friendship Baptist churches. He said the service used to rotate between churches but the attendance is so large now that only a couple of churches have the facilities to hold the numbers who attend. The preacher delivering the message is rotated each year.

Each of the seven churches has a close relationship to Campbellsville University. Five of the seven churches are pastored by CU employees and one is the husband of a CU employee: Saloma (Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president); Pleasant Hill (Jones, who is church outreach special assistant); Good Hope (Hardy, who is dean of academic support); Mt. Roberts (Franklin, who is residence hall director at CU’s North Hall and a master of theology student at CU and who grew up in Saloma Baptist); Mt. Gilboa (Miller, who is coordinator of student services); Salem (Goodwin, who is on the Campbellsville University Church Relations Council and is the husband of CU faculty member Marilyn Goodwin), and Friendship (which is without a pastor at the moment, but Barry Blevins, a member of the CU Board of Trustees, serves as a deacon at the church).

Chowning said the Thanksgiving celebration is “really a joyful event, lots of fun and good worship.” He said the churches are all strong Cooperative Program churches and all are supportive of CU in many ways and also in other Kentucky Baptist initiatives.

Franklin, who preached the service, used Acts 3 as his message of Thanksgiving. He told of the lame man who could not walk and who was befriended by Peter and John.

The beggar stood at the gate of the temple called Beautiful, and Peter and John told him they had no money but they raised him up and he could walk.

The man, who now was healed, was praising God and running and walking.

Franklin said Jesus changed the man’s life, and he can do the same for us.

“Don’t forget to help people,” Franklin said. “Don’t forget to help the crippled, the hurting, those who have fallen, and those without hope and who are desperate to hear the message of Jesus Christ.”

Franklin urged the congregation to thank those men and women who have helped them in their lives. “Who in your life has helped you along your journey?” he asked.

He said people sometimes forget how “awesome it is to be a believer.”

“Be joyful about having Jesus Christ in your heart,” he said. “If you’ve got Jesus, you’ve got enough.”

“What better time than Thanksgiving to give thanks to Jesus who helped me to be truly thankful for what he’s done for me,” he said.

Franklin said he became a believer at the age of 15, and “I will never be the same. My prayer is to not be the same as I used to be. Jesus has changed my life.”

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with over 3,000 students offering 63 undergraduate programs, 17 master’s degrees and five postgraduate areas. The website for complete information is

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