Community residents, elected officials and business owners from Culpeper filled the sanctuary of Culpeper United Methodist Church last Thursday for the Annual Community Thanksgiving Service sponsored by the Culpeper County Christian Ministerial Association. Held annually in Culpeper for over twenty years, the service continues to draw the community together for a common purpose; to give thanks.
Greeting a nearly filled sanctuary of 165 people, president of the CCCMA, Erick Kalenga offered a reminder to those in attendance. “We need to thank God for things we have every day. Our gratitude has to be an act of obedience to God. Often, we forget to say thanks,” he said. Following Kalenga’s welcome the Culpeper Gospel Choir voiced a soulful rendition of Lord, I Need You bringing the already swaying crowd to their feet culminating with a resounding applause.
With attendees visibly moved during the service, the sanctuary pulsed with a spirit of pride for the Culpeper community. Attending for the first time this year, Mary Khoury was moved through the numerous songs by the choir and the powerful message provided by Pastor Brad Hales of Reformation Lutheran Church. “It was very enlightening,” said Khoury of the service. “The message was so beautiful and true. It was nice to sit in pews next to Christians, next to just another human and a friend.”
Thankfulness and pride for the Culpeper community were common threads throughout the evening. In the delivering of his message Hales said, “I have had the great honor of going to the Culpeper National Cemetery many times. It is one of the most powerful places in Culpeper. Every time I go there it is an opportunity for me to give thanks. Because of the sacrifice of service; because of that, us creatures get to do what we do publicly every day”.
An all-encompassing community event many community dignitaries were present and acknowledged during Thursday’s service including the mayor, Culpeper police, the Culpeper County Sheriff's Office, EMS personnel, and 911 dispatchers. Lieutenant Jared Martin of the Salvation Army spoke of the Culpeper Warming Shelter. A beneficiary of the evening’s offertory, the warming shelter, hosted by local churches, opens December first and provides warm meals, shelter and comfort for the homeless during the winter months.