Its not that unusual that members of the Heritage at Houston United Methodist Church on Houston Avenue prepare a meal for the neighborhood. After all, they do so each Sunday.
But for Christmas, the church members upped the scale considerably, working with other churches, civic organizations and businesses for a Christmas lunch that was open to the entire community.
Between 100 and 150 volunteers spanning 46 Middle Georgia churches cooked and served portions of the feast, which included chicken, turkey and ham as the main courses, with sides such as potatoes, green beans, stuffing and noodles. Participants brought in so much food, in fact, that three long tables in a back room were loaded with baking pans, some stacked upon one another to save space, with workers still cooking items in the kitchen.
In addition to the main and side dishes, there were four tables full of pieces of cake and other desserts.
Weve been piling the food in for the last hour, said organizer Ray Rover just before the lunch kicked off. Weve done meals like this before, but not on this scale.
Rover said the event was aimed at everyone in the community, regardless of color or income level.
Its for the less fortunate, the lonely or broken, he said. Its for anyone willing to come here and sit down. It doesnt matter if you drive a Mercedes or walk down, everyone is welcome.
Though the volunteers came from a variety of churches and backgrounds, it didnt take long for them to mesh together. For example, noted Pastor Dexter Maxwell, the singers performing hymns and holiday music all came from different churches and didnt meet each other until that morning, yet were able to harmonize beautifully.
Theres just so much collaboration with other churches, organizations ... businesses, he said. Its an incredible sign of unity and love.
Keith Brand, a Macon resident who works as a mechanic at Robins Air Force Base, volunteered along with his wife and son.
This is the first time weve come here for Christmas to volunteer, Brand said. I think its going to be a tradition that every year, were going to do this. I want to be a part of something good.
Jerry Richardson of Macon said he usually comes for the weekly meal the church provides, but came Tuesday because he didnt have other Christmas plans.
Its Christmas time, and I wanted to get out of the house, he said. Its nice, pleasant. Everyone is getting along.
Harold Webb said he lives near the church and also comes every Sunday.
Its nice, he said of the dinner. I appreciate it. Im sure everyone is appreciative of it.
Organizers said they hoped to serve between 300 and 500 people Tuesday. Any leftover food was going to be taken to the Macon Rescue Mission.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.