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Ventura County Religion

A Little Something for Everyone

Holidays: Thanksgiving can be a tough time for many people. Area aid groups and churches offer nourishment for the spirit as well as for the body.


Holidays such as Thanksgiving can be tough--not just for the hungry and homeless, but for people who are merely lonely.

So on Thanksgiving Day, many county churches and aid agencies will offer two types of nourishment--spiritual sustenance along with turkey and all the trimmings.

In Simi Valley, four congregations--and four combined choirs--from St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, Congregation B'Nai Emet, United Church of Christ and Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, will give interfaith thanks at 7:30 on Thanksgiving evening.

"Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to come together as one family of God," said Pastor Julia Christian of St. Francis.

"Our biblical roots of Thanksgiving come out of the passage in Deuteronomy 26," she said. "It talks about bringing the first fruits of the harvest as an offering of thanks to God for his blessings. And we're told to share the bounty of the harvest with the poor and the needy; the widow, the orphan and the sojourner among us.

"All our religious traditions rise from that, really. Our official Thanksgiving holiday goes back to the Puritans and Pilgrims--they were creating a new place where they could practice religion unfettered."

The community is welcome at the service, and participants are asked to bring a canned good for Care and Share.

St. Francis of Assisi is at 280 Royal St. in Simi Valley.

Other Thanksgiving dinners and services include:

* Ojai Presbyterian Church is serving a traditional turkey feast to all comers on Thanksgiving evening, not just to those who label themselves as homeless or poor.

"Maybe you just plain live alone and want to share a communal meal," said Deanna Higson, who oversees the church's popular 6 p.m. Thanksgiving feast each year.

"If you want to come and help, or come and eat, or come and drop off a dish--or all three, you're welcome," she said.

The church is at 304 N. Foothill Road. Call 646-1437 for more details.

* Similarly, the Salvation Army, at 650 S. Petit in Ventura's east end, is reaching out not only to the hungry, but also to lonely senior citizens for its sit-down feast between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

At Oxnard's Salvation Army quarters, two seatings will be offered: at 10:30 a.m. and again at 12:30 p.m. Both meals will be served at 622 W. Wooley Road.

* In the Salvation Army's downtown Ventura location, the meal will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the social service center, 155 S. Oak St.

"There are always plenty of people to help serve these meals," a spokesman said, but anyone who can help out for cleanup duty afterward will be especially welcome at either address after 1 p.m.

* The new Lighthouse Transitional Center shelter in Oxnard, an outreach of the Ventura County Rescue Mission, is offering a feast at noon Thanksgiving Day at 234 E. 6th St. to women and their children, and everyone is welcome to join for the meal.

* The Rescue Mission, at the same Oxnard address, will also serve a Thanksgiving meal to all on Wednesday, the day before the holiday, from noon to 2 p.m.

* The Samaritan Center in Simi Valley will serve a free holiday meal from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, 280 Royal Ave.

* Family to Family, one of Project Understanding's many satellite agencies, will serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at 303 N. Ventura Ave. in Ventura.

On the spiritual side, many churches and synagogues plan special services to give thanks. Among them:

* Church for the Nations in Oxnard will host pastors and congregants from two other churches, Evangel Christian Center and Oxnard Christian Center, for a joint giving of thanks at 10 a.m. Thursday. Pastors David Moore, Emma Waits and Bob Inglis will speak.

"It's for giving thanks and eating our spiritual food before we go home and eat our physical food," said assisting minister Shirley Samuel of Church for the Nations.

* Simi Valley's Sonrise Christian Fellowship will host a 7 p.m. family Thanksgiving service with Pastor Ken Craft.

* At 10 a.m. Thursday at Santa Paula Presbyterian Church, Pastor Chuck Laird will play emcee and stroll through the church pews with a microphone, so people can tell what they're thankful for.

* Camarillo's United Methodist Church will hold a Thanksgiving eve family service at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

* Oxnard's St. Anthony's Church will celebrate Thanksgiving Day Mass at 9 a.m. Nonperishable food items or monetary donations will also be collected at the service for the St. Vincent de Paul Society to aid the hungry.

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