It would have been easy for Ray Rover to try to keep things simple when organizing the annual Christmas feast for the Heritage at Houston United Methodist Church in Macon.
But last years inaugural event proved successful enough that Rover decided to add satellite lunches at Second Street near the bridge, an east Macon housing project and a local mobile home park with a majority Hispanic population.
Despite the ambitious undertaking, Rover said there wasnt much planning that went into it. He joked with attendees right before lunch was served that all God told him to do was to get some empty pans and the community would do the rest.
God is good, he said. We had such an abundance from last year. Seeing all this food -- theres enough to serve 100 or 200 people -- and its not even 12 oclock. ... Theres no planning. Its all impromptu. We served around 300 last year; this year, were shooting for 700.
The church served as the base of operations where volunteers came in early to set up and heat up the food. For the satellite lunches, volunteers loaded tables, food and other items into pickup trucks and set up the other sites.
Volunteers from many Methodist churches in Macon and Warner Robins showed up to help out.
I did it last year with my daughter Mary, said Judy Holloway, who belongs to a different church. We really get a lot out of it. Its a good way to spend Christmas together. Its just me and my three children; theres no reason not to come. Id rather do this than eat and take a nap.
Harold Webb, who lives near the church, came to the lunch because he didnt have anyone else with whom to spend the holiday.
Its nice, he said. It helps a lot of people. It brings people together in fellowship. If youve got no family, you can come here.