By Becky Bell
Special to Banner-News
A tradition of thanksgiving for earthly blessings and those from above continued Sunday at Full Faith Community Baptist Church.
Since 2013, the Magnolia Minister's Network has been holding a service before Thanksgiving at different churches within the network for worship and to take up an offering to help those in need in the community, according to Unity Church Pastor Travis McKamie.
Full Faith's Pastor Donnell Ford said a wonderful thing about the network is that it involves different denominations, but they all work together as one for a united goal.
"In this day and age when there is so much division, we just need to go to the Bible to where there are no denominations," he said. "We are not in competition. We all serve the same God."
Pastor Ford's wife, Latanya Ford, leads the praise team at Full Faith Community Baptist Church. The singing team belted out praise song after praise song during the service, bringing the audience to their feet as some reached up to the air as they felt the spirit move within them.
The money collected during Sunday's offering goes to the First United Method Church and will be distributed from there. First United Methodist Church offers weekly hot meals through its Stew Pot ministries and has food in stock to distribute to families in need.
Additionally, families can go to the church office and fill out a form about their financial situation to see if they can get additional financial help, said Barbara Lewis, who pastors at Emerson United Methodist Church.
"Checks are written, but they are not written to the individual," Lewis explained. "We help individuals cover their bills so the check might be written for a utility bill."
McKamie said 100 percent of the money collected in the Sunday Magnolia Ministries Network service stays in Magnolia to help needy families. The group has similar services to collect money and worship together around the National Day of Prayer and around Easter. In addition, all the ministers in the network contribute to the fund monthly.
"Our benevolent fund is active all year, but the purpose of the Thanksgiving offering is to help families during the Christmas season," McKamie said.
McKamie said there are about 20 ministries involved in the network. There are 11 different pastors listed on the program for the services for the Sunday Thanksgiving praise. Each one got up to give a text of scripture or a word of encouragement to the audience.
"We may all have different views on how to worship God, but what matters is we all worship him," he said.
The Thanksgiving service's key speaker was First United Methodist Church Pastor Gary Maskell who gave his personal testimony of going through a difficult divorce and having to begin life over in a lot less lovely of a home, but said he was thankful when he got heat to keep him comfortable in the winters.
He told the audience he would, many nights, cry out to God wondering how his life could have changed for the worse right before his eyes, but one day during church, he fell to his knees and sobbed, reaching out to God and realizing he was going to make it through this stormy season of his life, despite all the challenges.
He said things began to get better and the Lord brought him his wife, Pastor Melissa Maskell.
"If God can do it for me, I think he can do it for you," Gary Maskell said. "Sometimes we have more than we know. We need to take the blessings we've got. We have salvation and we couldn't work for it, we couldn't earn it. We need to thank him when everything seems helpless and thank him not just on Thanksgiving."
To donate to the Magnolia Ministries Network, checks should be made to First United Methodist Church; Memo: MMN. Mail to 320 West Main Street, Magnolia, AR 71753.