Community dinner celebrates start of new year

PARKERSBURG – Roughly 100 community members joined together to celebrate the ringing in of 2013 at the Baptist Temple of Parkersburg for the church’s annual New Year’s Day community dinner.

For nearly a decade, the church, located at the corner of 19th Street and Park Avenue next to City Park, has provided a dinner on the first day of the new year, said Pastor Larry Dale.

“Our mission is to do God’s will, neighbor helping neighbor,” Dale said. “About 10 years ago we did a survey of the community and asked people what they would like.

“We also looked around and realized there are about 100 places people can go on Thanksgiving and almost as many places serving dinners on Christmas, but nowhere had an event of New Year’s Day,” he added. “We decided to fill that New Year’s Day void and open to the community for that holiday.”

While Dale said the church’s goals are to help those who are hindered, hurting or hungry, its doors are open to anyone who wants to come for the event.

“We get a lot of people who just want some fellowship and to be around their neighbors,” he said.

Members from the church provided the food dishes and donations from others in the community were also used for the meal.

Although turkey and ham are the mainstays of most holiday dinners, the New Year’s Day dinner at Baptist Temple Parkersburg offered a variety of different dishes from barbecue to spaghetti and lasagna to pizza, salad and more.

“We do always have cabbage or sauerkraut, which are staples of the New Year to bring wealth, but we also have spaghetti and other non-traditional New Year’s foods,” Dale said.

Volunteers were busy this year not only preparing the food, but also serving it.

For the first time, Parkersburg residents Sandra Wright, Pam Godwin and Patti Williams decided to give their time helping those who attended the meal.

“The Lord spoke to me this morning and told me to do something for my community and pay it forward,” said Godwin.

Williams, who is not a member of the church, said she was raised in the Baptist Temple and her father was one of the members who helped build the current building.

“I’m here to give back,” she said. “My dad died last year and me being here and helping in the church he loved is a bit of a tribute to him.”

Wright said she chose to help during the dinner because it was a nice thing to do.

“Volunteering is a good way to start the year, by giving back,” she added.

For the people who walked into the church Tuesday, Dale said he would like them to realize that someone loves and care about them.

“We want them to know that God loves them, God’s people loves them and God is going to provide, no matter how hungry they are, no matter how hurting they are and no matter how hindered they are,” Dale said. “God has said he will meet the needs of people.”

“What we are doing today demonstrates the power of God’s love.”