In what one leader says is a first for the area, the Cooke County Ministerial Association is planning to host a pre-Thanksgiving outdoor day of worship Sunday afternoon, Nov. 24.
About 11 churches or religious organizations are signed up to lead portions of the “Day of Praise and Thanks” set for 2:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Gainesville Farmers Market, according to Phil Larson, president of the ministerial association and pastor of Hope C in Gainesville.
The outdoor event will be a first for the association, Larson said.
“There have been a few times in the past — over the past 20 years, there’s been a Thanksgiving prayer gathering,” he said. This year’s event, he explained, builds on the “unity” theme of the ministers’ gatherings the association hosts each month. That theme drove the National Day of Prayer breakfast and open prayer time in May, too.
“The pastors have been doing this through the year so now we’re saying, let’s get the people involved and begin to build that sense of unity, that sense of, we’re different but we have a common Gospel,” Larson said.
He described Sunday’s event as “very distinctive in that it’s multicultural, it’s multi-denominational.” English, Spanish and Portuguese are expected to be heard as well as a variety of musical styles, he said.
“You’ll have everything from hymns to guitar and folk to band to current day, gospel,” Larson said. “The churches that are involved are black, Latino, they’re white, they’re ecumenical churches, they’re ecclesiastical churches, they’re evangelical churches... and each church will worship in their style. It’s not a mass choir. Each congregation will worship in their style and the other people there will be able to participate in that.”
Roughly 70 ministers are involved on one level or another in the ministerial association, Larson said, and around 15 to 18 churches are represented at most of its meetings.
The schedule for the Day of Praise and Thanks will be as follows at the farmers market, 201 N. Chestnut St. Larson encouraged people to bring a lawn chair and stay for the whole event.
2:30 p.m. — Christian Gathering of Valley View
3 p.m. — Rev. John Fleming of First United Methodist on guitar
3:25 p.m. — Rev. Jeff Langley of First Baptist gives a Thanksgiving prayer for the churches
3:30 p.m. — The Fold leads praise and worship
3:55 p.m. — Rev. Kristy Wassenaar of SOLUM gives a Thanksgiving prayer for the county
4 p.m. — First Christian leads praise and worship
4:25 p.m. — Rev. John Hare, retired from First Presbyterian, gives a Thanksgiving prayer for the government
4:30 p.m. — St. James CME leads praise and worship
4:55 p.m. — Father Jeffy Stubbs of St. Paul’s Episcopal gives a Thanksgiving prayer for education
5 p.m. — Nuevo Pacto leads bilingual praise and worship
5:25 p.m. — Rev. Starla Abraham of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services gives a Thanksgiving prayer for businesses.