Trinity UMC turkey dinner

PHOTO By Caitlin Able

The annual turkey dinner at Trinity UMC brings out a crowd of volunteers to help serve the community.

KENTLAND — Trinity United Methodist Church (UMC) held their annual turkey dinner on Sunday, Nov. 14, serving homemade meals to the community through drive-through service.

Volunteers came from hours away to participate in this event, which is a staple community marker of the holidays. One volunteer, Anna Satek, has been coming from Chicago for three years to participate in the yearly fundraiser.

“We have hundreds of people come through,” she said. “You wouldn’t think so since it’s such a small community, but they really come together for things like this.”

For nearly 70 years, the Trinity UMC has been organizing this annual banquet for the people of Kentland. In previous years, attendees would gather in the church for a sit-down meal, and over time, they developed a carry-out option. In 2020, the church shifted to a fully drive-through service to combat COVID.

This event has been a tradition within the church for longer than any congregant can remember, with it having been established prior to 1957, when Janet Miller began attending at the previous church building on the corner of Dunlap and 2nd Street.

“I remember going down in the basement: that’s where everyone went,” she said. “We had rooms down there, and it was always eat-in in the beginning. It’s a whole church project, and I can remember elderly couples carving turkeys in the old kitchen. It’s a big job, but everybody always came together.”

She recalled a previous banquet when the church had held an arts bazaar in tangent with the meal. Members of the congregation made candy, breads, and cookies, as well as carving wooden figures to sell. This event was not repeated due to the effort required to keep up with food orders.

From the early hours of the morning, there was a consistent team of 10 people working in the kitchen, according to volunteers. The full operation consisted of 20 to 30 people who shifted between cooking, cleaning, working the food line, and taking orders from the line of cars that extended out to the main road.

The importance of this event in the church’s calendar year cannot be overstated, and preparation for its requirements were taken into consideration when the new church building was constructed.

“Back then, everybody that did a turkey had their own roaster,” explained Mary Blake, a congregant and volunteer. “And when we would need to run the roasters in the church, we would have to get a generator because we kept blowing fuses. When we built this [church], we said, ‘Okay, we need this and this and this.’ They were very generous with us and gave us those circuits.”

Proceeds from the banquet are donated to Lucille Raines Residence (LRR), a substance abuse treatment and residential facility that is owned and operated by the United Methodist Women of Indiana. It is a non-profit charity organization that provides housing and a self-help program for men and women seeking to improve their lives.

The facility, which is based in Indianapolis, houses up to 49 individuals and leads them through a 12-step program to recovery.

Residents pay rent, and other costs are covered by donations from individuals, organizations, and the United Methodist Church.

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