LUMBERTON — “Christmas is a wonderful time, but it can be tough for many people,” said Pastor Gary Strickland.
Strickland’s church, Kingdom Place, and Arnold West of Village Station restaurant in Lumberton made sure that at least 400 people had it a little less tough on Christmas Day, serving up food and a side order of the blessing of good fellowship.
Kingdom Place members reached out to the community to treat all comers Monday to a sit-down dinner, tablecloths included, at the popular Lumberton restaurant. There was turkey, ham, with dressing with gravy, two vegetables, a roll, cranberry sauce and pie — seconds were had for the asking.
“This is our sixth year,” Pastor Strickland said. “We are serving the homeless, lonely, hurting and travelers.”
Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey arrived to pick up dinner for deputies, EMTs, dispatchers and jail staff who pulled Christmas Day duty.
“This is a great mission,” Sheriff Sealey said. “The county employees really appreciate what Arnold, Pastor Gary, and his church do for them on Christmas.”
West was moving from kitchen to dining room, making sure everything was running smoothly.
“We’re off to a good start,” Arnold said. “We’ll feed close to 400 between the dining room and carry out.”
West said Pastor Strickland approached him six years ago with the idea, and it proved irresistible.
“As a business, we pray that our food will nourish bodies and spirits,” he said. “The most humble servant stands the tallest.”
There were many humble servants at the Village Station on this Christmas Day, and spirits were high and stomachs full.
Jamie Parrish, a church member and single mom, came for a hot meal and more.
“This church has been incredible for me,” Parrish said. “I came to be with my church family.”
Victor Wilson is homeless and needed a meal at Christmas. His plate was clean.
“This is my first time here,” Wilson said. “I heard they were feeding the community. It’s a good thing.”
Dorothy Odom, a resident of the Purvis community, said she is “one of the lonely ones.”
“I am not a church member, but I am enjoying myself with these good people,” Odom said. “This is wonderful.”
Kingdom Place member Patricia McDougald was waiting tables, and Denise Britt was seating guests.
“This is my first time serving at this event,” McDougald. “I was drawn to it, just like I was drawn to this church. It was the holy spirt.”
“This is my second year,” Britt said. “It is a very humbling thing to serve. To see the smiling faces makes it worth it.”
Volunteers, like the Fisher and Farrington families, enjoyed a family Christmas in service to others.
“We come every year,” said Kevin Farrington, who was working in the kitchen. “We bring the whole family.”
“This has become a family tradition for us for three years,” said Cody Fisher.