The mantra for the annual service is “Bringing God’s People Together to Serve God’s People in Need.”
“It’s an affirmation to see people of all faiths gathered together with a common sense of worship,” said Martha Vandervoort, executive director for Interfaith Ministries of Calhoun County.
“To stand up before such a group, to see that diversity … it’s recognition that the community supports the message of serving others as one.”
This year’s community Thanksgiving service — hosted on Sunday by the Church of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Anniston — will feature prayers for Thanksgiving, diversity, peace and protection, as well as sermons and the singing of hymns.
There will be Bible readings from Deuteronomy in Hebrew and the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn), an ancient Jewish instrument.
Rebecca Littlejohn, pastor of Anniston’s First Christian Church, will read Psalm 65.
Chris Thomas, pastor of Fairview Heights North Side Baptist Church, will deliver the sermon.
With each recitation, a door of understanding is open, allowing a rare glimpse into a world of worship too few witness.
“We all tend to get too comfortable in our little boxes, surrounding ourselves with people who think like us, believe like us and worship like us,” Vandervoort said. “But that’s not the whole picture. Services like this are a chance to see something new, to see that, despite our differences, we all have common goals, and that’s bringing glory to God.”
The service will also feature a variety of music. “There is a very artistic quality to the service this year,” Vandervoort said. “It’s going to be unlike anything we’ve seen in years before.”
The service will include the first public appearance of the Anniston Christian Academy Concert Choir, led by Jennie Wall, opera singer and star of several Community Actors’ Studio Theatre musicals. The youth choir, founded six years ago, now consists of 40 homeschooled students, in grades 7-12, who are “ecstatic” at the chance to perform not only as part of the Interfaith service but in a venue like St. Michael’s, Wall said.
“St. Michael’s has such wonderful resonation and will serve as a beautiful setting,” said Wall. “But most important are the people — so much diversity. The entire community of faith will be there, and to have a chance to share this message of Thanksgiving will be a true blessing.”
The choir will be performing “My Eternal King” by Jane Marshall, a song Wall chose not only because her students were familiar with it, but because of the message it conveys.
“It’s all about loving God, about loving who he is,” she said.
“At the very heart of Thanksgiving is our focus upwards. And that’s the message not only of this piece, but the Interfaith service itself.”
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interfaith Community Thanksgiving Service
Sunday: 4 p.m. at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, 1000 W. 18th St., Anniston.