By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – People representing a variety of faith traditions will gather for the annual Tupelo Community Thanksgiving Service on Monday at noon.
The one-hour service will be hosted by St. Paul United Methodist Church on North Spring Street.
“The event is a great community builder that pulls together all types of Tupelo’s citizens,” said Mayor Jack Reed Jr.
The service will feature messages of thanks by Tupelo Police Department Chief Tony Carleton, Sgt. Michael Russell, and two members from the Police Athletic League .
St. Paul’s Inspirational Choir and guest singers will perform hymns of fellowship and patriotism. The program will conclude with a benediction by the Rev. Gloria McKinney, pastor at St. Paul, followed by light refreshments.
The service has been around since the late 1960s and seeks to bring citizens together from all corners of the community.
“I remembered the service as a boy and when I took office it was one of the things I wanted to build back up,” Reed said. “I have high hopes that it is a tradition that will continue to be valued.”
Reed recalled that the service was originally initiated by a bi-racial committee to promote positive race relations. The committee disbanded, and the tradition was taken up by various churches. It was also held on Thanksgiving Day.
Today, the service is steered by local business leaders and community volunteers, and is held early in the week to accommodate holiday schedules, usually drawing several hundred participants.
In recent years, the service has featured speakers of multiple Christian denominations, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and others. The venue has alternated from predominantly white to predominantly black congregations.
Shannon’s Community Thanksgiving Service will be at 5:30 p.m. Sunday in the Shannon High School auditorium. A meal will be served after the service.
Pontotoc will hold its own Community Thanksgiving Service on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church. Those attending are invited to bring canned food items for the Pontotoc Food Pantry, and a financial offering for the Good Samaritan Fund will also be received.