by Robert C. Frank
Recently a group of neighborhood churches in Rock Island, Illinois celebrated Thanksgiving together again, this time at a Roman Catholic Church. The tradition started many years ago when a group of Christian churches, each a few blocks apart on the same street, decided to get together on the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving to express their gratitude to God.
The original group included a Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, and Lutheran church. Later they were joined by a Presbyterian church, another Baptist church, and a Jewish synagogue. It is an exceptional Thanksgiving service because it involves the combined contributions from the rich traditions of each of the different churches. The Old Testament lesson is read in Hebrew and the New Testament lesson in Greek with English translations provided. All the choirs contribute their special music. The offering is in the form of non-perishable food to restock the Food Bank used to help needy families in the area.
Despite the many different church traditions, they understand that God is the source of all creation including human beings. Thus, an appropriate common goal for all churches is caring for God’s creation and creating better lives for all human beings. In recent years, transportation, communication, and medical science in America have improved dramatically so most people are living healthier, happier, and longer lives. It is an exceptionally appropriate time to express gratitude to God for all these benefits. (An updated version of a blog posted in November. 2015.)