Refuge Assembly is a small but proud church on Depot Street in Soddy-Daisy.
Built in 1957, many original members or children of original members still attend each Sunday and Wednesday.
But when new Pastor Dennis Parillo asked his fellow church leaders and congregation members what they were doing for Thanksgiving, he was immediately saddened by many of the answers.
"One elderly couple said they were just going to stay home," said Parillo. "And another woman said she wasn't sure if her family was coming down to visit this year or not."
Parillo and his wife Bobbie realized just how many in the nearby community would be alone on Thanksgiving evening, either because the distance separating them from family is too great, money is too tight or they have little family remaining.
"My wife, the other church leaders and I all thought, "We can't have that!'" Parillo said. "So we thought we'd hold Thanksgiving at the church."
The meal is completely free to the community, and all are welcome, said Parillo. Turkey, cornbread, green beans and all the "usual fixings" are on the menu.
The church asks that people RSVP by Nov. 18 so organizers can get an accurate headcount to ensure they have enough food. Those interested can RSVP by calling 615-598-7808.
Though this is the first year Refuge Assembly has hosted a Thanksgiving event, Parillo, who joined the church as pastor in March 2016, said he has been astounded by the congregation's generosity. He and his wife live in Rock Island, about an hour from Soddy-Daisy, so there is little time after Wednesday service for them to get dinner. When some of the women in the church found out, he said they immediately set to creating an after-church dinner for everyone.
"We want this to be a wonderful time of fellowship," Parillo said of the Thanksgiving event. "And hopefully, we can reach out and let some folks know that someone cares and that they don't have to be alone."
Email Shane Foley at firstname.lastname@example.org.