[Masthead] Fair ~ 77°F  
High: 85°F ~ Low: 64°F
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thanksgiving service celebrates love, gratitude

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Rev. Charles Stephenson Jr. delivers the message Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the annual Community Thanksgiving Service.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
As everyone counts blessings during the Thanksgiving holiday, the most important blessing to count is God's love.

That was the main message delivered by the Rev. Charles Stephenson Jr. during the annual Community Thanksgiving Service sponsored by Marshall Ministerial Alliance and hosted at Southside Assembly of God Church Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Stephenson noted that 2012 has been a very difficult year for him as he battled cancer and struggled to continue his ministry while recovering from surgery.

But God helped him through the difficult times, he said.

From left, Bailey Riley, Anna Hartley and Hannah Alfrey dance during the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Praise Team performance.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
"God never takes us through a situation without giving us a revelation," he said. "Although it has been one of struggle, it has also been a very rewarding time for me. God has blessed me to be able to impact the lives of many wonderful people who have made poor choices yet need to know that God loves them. I'm so thankful to be able to continue this work."

Stephenson based his message on John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (NIV)

"I believe John 3:16 is the single greatest verse in the Bible," he said. "It has been called the gospel in a nutshell. It has been called a love letter from God, written in blood."

Using the verse as a guide, he noted his mission in life "is to empower as many people as I can, as best as I can, as long as I can. If I can engage, education, equip and empower someone every day I come in contact with, I feel like I am fulfilling my part in the world."

Stephenson traced the influences of three people in his life, his father, Charles Stephenson Sr., his wrestling coach, Jim Hargraves, and his grandmother, Nanny Stephenson. He said it was his grandmother who "planted the foundation in which I live by."

"She taught me through a song at a very young age," he said, and then began to sing, with the congregation soon joining in. "Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so."

That simple song captures the message of John 3:16 and the most important thing to remember and be grateful for at Thanksgiving, according to Stephenson.

"I believe the root of all the world's crises today is the true fact that many people don't know God loves them."

Marshall Community Chorus performs during the Thanksgiving service Tuesday, Nov. 20.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
The service, as always, was filled with seasonal music provided by Marshall Community Chorus, directed by Ron Sayer and accompanied on piano by Julie Lewis, and by Marshall High School Orchestra, directed by Kevin Lines.

An addition this year was an interpretive dance performance by Cumberland Presbyterian Church Praise Team.

In addition to Stephenson, members of the Marshall Ministerial Alliance who participated in the service included the Rev. Cliff Cato, Fr. Kevin Gormley, the Rev. Vernon Maxted, the Rev. Kathleen Schmidtke, the Rev. Randy Shannon, the Rev. David Van Horn and the Rev. Mary Williams.

Marshall High School Orchestra, directed by Kevin Lines, performs a medley of Thanksgiving songs as the prelude to the annual Community Thanksgiving Service Tuesday, Nov. 20.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News) [Order this photo]
Contact Eric Crump at ecrump@marshallnews.com

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on marshallnews.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

It was a very nice service. More people should have attended.

-- Posted by momaster on Thu, Nov 22, 2012, at 8:22 AM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: