East Spencer church provides free traditional meal

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 25, 2011

By Emily Ford
EAST SPENCER — If not for Providence Baptist Church, David Swartz would have gone without Thanksgiving dinner Thursday.
The small church just off Interstate 85 with 110 members served about 150 people a free, traditional Thanksgiving meal, including turkey and all the fixings. The food, prepared and served by about 20 volunteers, went to folks who were shut-in, down on their luck or just looking for a friend to break bread together.
“I think it’s fantastic for people who don’t have it or can’t get out,” said Swartz, who lives in Spencer and comes to the free dinner every year. “I’m glad somebody does this.”
Swartz dined with Will and Kathy Ritchie of China Grove, who said their children in Concord couldn’t make it to Thanksgiving this year, so they decided to come to Providence Baptist.
“It’s just a great time of fellowship,” Will Ritchie said. “The friendliness of this church is hard to turn down.”
Church member Ida Adams began cooking Wednesday and spent most of the night in the kitchen, preparing turkey, ham, 15 pounds of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing and two pies.
“I feel great,” she said. “I’m not tired even though I might have slept maybe two hours.”
For the first time this year, the church offered delivery and dropped off about 100 meals to people in Rowan and Davidson counties.
“The sole goal is to reach people who need help, feed the hungry and assist the community,” Sam Adams said.
Church members donated and prepared nearly all the food. Nearby Yadkin Missionary Baptist Church sent volunteers to help Thursday, and the North Rowan Booster Club donated a barbecue pork shoulder.
“How better to show the community that you care about them than to reach out to them,” said Don McIntyre, the outreach minister for Yadkin Baptist who came to help Thursday.
The annual meal is a major undertaking for Providence Baptist, and planning starts several months before Thanksgiving. Pastor Sy Ponds said he’s proud of his congregation.
“We’re just a small, country-type church, but people here really got a big heart,” Ponds said.
The church also offers a year-round food pantry for anyone in need, no questions asked, he said.
McIntyre called Ponds one of the best preachers in Rowan County and said the church helped inspire Yadkin Baptist to form an outreach program, which has grown from four members to 14 in three years.
“The people in this congregation, they have changed lives,” McIntyre said. “I hope one day we can do the same.”
Eventually, McIntyre said he would love to see the churches join forces at Thanksgiving and feed thousands of people.
“Faith can move mountains,” he said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.
Other area churches offered free Thanksgiving meals on Thursday, including Love Christian Center in East Spencer and North Kannapolis Baptist Church and True Holiness Church of God in Kannapolis.

What: Clothing and toy giveaway
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Dec. 10
Where: Yadkin Missionary Baptist Church, 150 Yadkin Baptist Church Road, Salisbury
Who: For anyone in need
How: To donate new or gently used toys, call Don McIntyre at 704-633-1498. To receive clothes or toys, come to the event.