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Community unites in gratitude
Mayor's annual Thanksgiving service
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Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas speaks Sunday during the 11th annual Mayors Thanksgiving Service at First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. - photo by Photo by Randy C. Murray

Ten local pastors, two Army chaplains, three choirs, two praise dance teams, numerous local leaders and the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division took part in the 11th annual Mayor’s Thanksgiving Service.
The event was presented by the city of Hinesville on Sunday evening at First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. Dr. Sinclair Thorne, pastor of First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, began the service by welcoming members of the community who packed the pews from the front row to the back row. Pastor Richard Hayes of New Day Community Church served as master of ceremonies.
“This year’s theme is ‘United we stand,’” said Hayes, who thanked the pastors taking part in the service as well as the military leaders, whom he said represent “one of the best divisions east of the Mississippi.” “When we all come together as a community, that’s when God can move.”
The service was divided into four mini-services: words for the community, words for the military, words for the nation and words of Thanksgiving. The services were led by pastors and local leaders and included music and dance performances. The offering collected for the event went to the Liberty County Homeless Coalition.
Lighthouse Hispanic Church Pastor Miguel Rivera began the words for the community with an opening prayer, which he chose to say in his native language — Spanish. Rivera was followed by Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette, who read  Scripture from 1 Corinthians 12:13-26. Before he began, however, Lovette joked that he would read the Bible in his native language — English.
“In this time of Thanksgiving, we need to look back (on how we’ve been blessed) and then care for those in need,” Mayor Jim Thomas said. “We’re a truly blessed community. Our community didn’t suffer as much as other communities during the recession, and we have recovered quicker than most ... We’re thankful to God for our blessings.”
Thomas called Hinesville and Liberty County the best community in the best state in the most blessed nation in the world. He then reiterated that it is important for this blessed community to remember those in need and do something to help them.
Col. Gary Hensley, senior chaplain for Fort Stewart Garrison, began the words for the military with a prayer. He was followed by Lt. Col. Gregory Walker, 3rd ID chaplain, who read Ephesians 6:10-20. Walker first said he had to correct Hayes. He said the 3rd ID is not “one of the best” but “the best” division, both east and west of the Mississippi.
“This is absolutely my favorite time of the year,” said Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, commander of the 3rd ID and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield. “I’m thankful for my country ... the Army ... this generation of soldiers and their families, who’ve had to face the hardest challenges. I’m thankful for our veterans ... and I’m thankful for a loving, supportive community. We’re not just Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, Hinesville, Pembroke or Savannah. We’re one community.”
State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, was supposed to deliver the words for the nation but was unable to attend, so Thomas spoke in his place.
“When it all boils down to it, we’re all Americans,” Thomas said, noting the community’s annual Small World Festival represents 39 ethnic groups. “We know we have the best place in the world to live ... We’re only 6 percent of the world’s population, but we have 55 percent of the world’s resources.”
Thomas was followed by First Samoan Church of Christ Bishop Uati Savea, who offered a prayer of Thanksgiving, and then the Rev. Yong Lee of Jesus Love Church read from Psalms 100. Life United Pentecostal Church Pastor Tommy Crutchfield delivered the words of Thanksgiving.
Crutchfield talked about the importance of having a “spirit of thanksgiving.” He said to give thanks at all times under all circumstances.
“The same God that did it before is the same God that can do it again,” Crutchfield said. “If he blessed you in 2013, then he can do it again in 2014.”

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