Church holds free Thanksgiving dinner for community

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – A line of people started to form on the sidewalk in front of Fat Johnny’s Comfort & Soul restaurant at 5 p.m. for Cultivate Church’s free Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Considering the dinner wasn’t supposed to start until 6 p.m., the turnout was impressive even before the doors opened.

“It was awesome,” said Brandon Matthews, co-lead pastor with Brandon Doss of Cultivate Church. “We served about 250 plates in about an hour and 15 minutes.”

Matthews said the dinner was simply something the church wanted to provide for the community.

“The coolest thing we were hearing from people is that they just could not believe that it really was free and there was no ulterior motive,” Matthews said. “We feel like the best way to show the love of Christ is through generosity. We just wanted the opportunity to bless more people and reach more people.”

Cultivate Church members help to serve food during the dinner. (Contributed)

Matthews said when the church approached Fat Johnny’s owner John Naro about partnering to provide the dinner and venue, he and his staff were immediately receptive to the idea.

“They shared the same heart that we did,” Matthews said. “He (Naro) was just as excited about the fact we were doing this for the community as we were. He made it a pleasure.”

Naro and his staff cooked a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and about 25-30 people from the church volunteered to help serve food, wait tables and clean up afterward.

Thanks to the inaugural dinner’s success, Matthews said he and Naro are open to partnering on more events in the future.

“It’s definitely something we’ll revisit and want to do again,” Matthews said. “It was a great event.”

Cultivate Church will hand out free cups of hot chocolate at Columbiana’s Christmas parade on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 5.

For more information about the church or its upcoming services and events, visit Cultivatechurch.tv or follow @CultivateChurch on Facebook and Instagram.