Greater St. John Bible Church’s annual Thanksgiving community dinner just celebrated its 15th year.
The basement of the church, 1256 W. Waller, typically serves about 150 people each year, and just as many came this year, said Sandra Buckhow, a longtime church member who helps prepare the dinner.
Smoked turkey and dressing, yams, greens and cabbage was among the free servings at last week’s pre-Thanksgiving gathering.
Preparations began a week earlier with Buckhow and other church members not only cooking but buying the food. Some members make their own specialty dishes to serve at the dinner, which ran from 10 in the morning to 2 p.m. Nov. 20th.
Buckhow said the meals are fresh, homemade soul food dinners, a tradition she and other church elders want to preserve.
“Young people now, they want quick food and no wait time,” said the youthful-looking, 75-year-old grandmother. “They want it pre-cooked: call, order and pick it up, but there’s nothing like home-cooked food.”
Church member Mattie Harris, who also prepares the Thanksgiving dinner, agreed. She said the recipes her generation grew up with need to passed on and learned by this generation.
“They can buy a cookbook, but it doesn’t taste like our food,” Harris said.
Buckhow added that she encouraged her children to learn how to cook and some did.
“I told them, ‘You all had to be able to cook like I do.’ I told them how to do the dressing and everything. They came close. I’d taste it and say, ‘This is close. It’s not there yet but it’s close,’ because you can tell how it’s supposed to be. It just has that taste.”
Buckhow, Harris and other members served up meals to residents at the annual dinner. Margaret Acree, first lady of the church and wife of pastor Ira Acree, also worked the food line.
“I didn’t make anything, but I had a lot on my plate,” she said with a laugh.
Along with serving arriving guests, members visits shelters and brings those clients back to the church. Harris and Buckhow said that’s all part of the church’s mission of helping people.