Giving thanks: Association of Churches brings community together for annual Thanksgiving service
Winchester’s faith community gathered Sunday night to give thanks, offer up prayer and express an ongoing desire for Christians across Clark County to work together to better the community.
The Winchester-Clark County Association of Churches hosted its annual community Thanksgiving service at Ark of Mercy Church of God, where local pastors gave messages about what Christians have been able to accomplish in the community while also acknowledging the various issues — including drug use and violence — that should be addressed.
Farley Stuart, pastor of Winchester First United Methodist Church opened the service with prayer and spoke about how services like Sunday’s are what God desires from the community.
“There is something special about a community service,” he said. “It’s Godly and it’s Biblical. It’s what God would have us do. It’s something that the Association of Churches has been looking forward to for weeks.”
The Association of Churches is comprised of representatives from approximately 40 local churches with the mission of uniting Christians based on their doctrinal similarities rather than their differences.
The organization is devoted to getting Clark County Christians active in improving areas of the community and addressing the needs of its residents.
Sunday’s service was a physical representation of that mission and an opportunity for the organization to celebrate what has been accomplished with its unifying approach.
David Douglas, pastor at Winchester Cathedral Church of God, noted some of the areas of the community the AOC has been able to impact.
Douglas explained that the AOC has been integral in establishing the Upward 40391 youth basketball league. He said approximately 800 local youth have been enrolled in the faith-based sports league, which was organized after the Winchester YMCA closed.
The AOC help found Clark County Community Services in the 1970s as an agency to address the community’s needs. CCCS operates a food bank, low-cost clothing and household thrift store, provides utilities assistance and offers other programs to help families and individuals in need.
Douglas said the AOC also actively supports New Beginnings pregnancy care center and Habitat for Humanity, provides volunteers for the chaplaincy program at Clark Regional Medical Center and area churches offer resources for recovery from substance abuse or other addictions.
“This has been accomplished by us all working together as one as God has called us to do,” Douglas said. “There is a movement of unity among our churches. God has called us to be one in Him.”
Sam Peoples, pastor at Broadway Baptist Church, and Janice Claypoole, pastor at Ark of Mercy Church of God, also offered proclamations of thanksgiving.
Claypoole took the time to express the deep desire of the Christian community for God to make a change in Clark County.
Claypoole said there have been 17 overdoses in Clark County so far this year. She said eight of those have resulted in death since September.
‘There have also been five suicides in our city this year,” she said.
In Kentucky, she said there are approximately 1,000 overdoses annually and there have been 209 murders in the state already this year.
“The condition of our city and our nation is beyond the power of man,” she said.
She said the bondage of addiction, unrest and violence require the faith community to come together in prayer for change.
“These ministers have been praying, and we’ve been praying,” she said. “There’s more to this than a Thanksgiving service. God is about to meld (Christians) together. We must appeal to God to come down and do a work in our city.”
Along with the messages, the praise and worship team from Ark of Mercy performed.
An offering was collected to be used for the transient ministry through Clark County Community Services, and a meal was served.