Gathering of faiths join in Thanksgiving

Rev. Gerald Safko of the Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church sings from the pulpit of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in an ecumenical service of Thanksgiving on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/PAT FARNELLI

BY PAT FARNELLI

Five grains of corn on an empty plate. That was how the first Thanksgiving feasts in the colonies began, symbolizing the famine of the first year, when  the pilgrims were rationed five kernels of corn each per day.

On Sunday, churches from Susquehanna County joined in an ecumenical service of Thanksgiving, held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Montrose.

The altar was heaped with fresh fruits and vegetables, and as the evening anthem was sung, attendees carried bags of groceries to place on or beneath the altar, for the local food bank.

The service was a collaborative one between at least a dozen Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian churches in Susquehanna County.

It was designed as a service of lessons and carols, a style more traditional to Christmas services than Thanksgiving. Lectors read short passages from the Bible, historical documents, and traditional blessings.

Each offering was given in a style quintessential to their denomination, yet in agreement with all.

The Rev. Paul Walker distributed packets of corn kernels and the story of how the Pilgrims would pick up each kernel, one at a time, sharing five things for which they were thankful.

The Rev. Gerald Safko of The Holy Name of Mary Roman Catholic Church served as cantor, and his glorious tenor filled the hall as he sang the responsorial Psalm 145, accompanied by Rev. Randy Webster on the piano.

Webster is the rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of New Milford and Christ Episcopal Church of Susquehanna.

“The Lord is faithful in word and deed, and always near, His name is holy. Lifting up all those who fall, God raises up the lowly,” the passage concluded.

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