FULTON – Almost every day, first responders come together to serve in the face of an emergency, but Southside Baptist Church in Fulton found a way to join all first responders together in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere.
“We wanted to say thank you,” Pastor Guy Thomas said. “so, we decided to provide a meal for the first responders in our area.”
The church invited first responders in a variety of roles to a meal that was held on Tuesday, 9/11; Wednesday, 9/12 and Thursday, 9/14. “We wanted to serve as many first responders as possible,” Thomas said, “but, they work on shifts. If we had it on one night, we would exclude some.”
The first responders invited to these meals, included: the Fire Department, Police, Sheriff Department, Emergency Medical Technicians, Jailers, Dispatchers, Highway Patrol and Conservation Agents.
“This event was important for the community,” Thomas said, “because today there is an environment where these men and women are not respected like they should be. We wanted to build a bridge with these workers because they need the Lord if they don’t know Him.”
Thomas said the turnout for the meal was wonderful. “We had about 175 responders participate during the three days,” he said. “Our church family realizes that when we celebrate holiday meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas, these folks are working. When we are peacefully asleep, these first responders are working.”
The church was able to offer a wonderful meal for the first responders. “We are blessed to have a guy in our church who is good at delicacy meats,” Thomas said. “He prepared 20 pork loins with a special brine and then, he smoked the pork. “Planning was a key to the success of the meals according to Thomas. “A month out, we took the heads of the different agencies to lunch,” he said, “to explain to them what we wanted to do. Then, we made a flier and circulated within each of the organizations. A couple days out, we sent reminder emails and the response was overwhelming.”
Thomas said the idea for the meal came from their Friendship Cookie Ministry. “The last week of the month, we provide a plate of cookies to these groups,” he said. “We also add teachers’ lounges and the Department of Family Services to the cookie ministry.”
Thomas said that everyone enjoyed all the meals. “Our church family served the first responders,” he said, “and they acted as greeters, everyone enjoyed the interaction.”