Church on the Move members prepare part of the feast the church offered veterans and other members of the community, Saturday evening. Mark Wilson Photo
Church on the Move welcomed more than 600 members of the community Saturday to honor area veterans, providing free food, live music and the engaging persona of a Bob Hope impersonator.
Lola Whitfield, church administrator, said church members offered up such all-you-can-eat options as chicken, steak, loaded mashed potatoes, green beans, brownies and cheesecake.
“It’s all they can eat until we run out of food!” she said. “All year long we honor our veterans with special services during Veterans Day and others, but we picked the Fourth of July because we noticed that with all the alien stuff going on, veterans weren’t being honored. So we took this time specifically to honor them.”
A Bob Hope impersonator from Las Vegas, Nev., entertained the audience with a variety of skits, and emceed the entire event. He introduced the church’s musical group I Am America, which played a medley from the 1960s and 1970s of “My Girl,” “I’m a Believer,” and “Respect.”
Associate pastor Shawn Kelly, who played bass guitar for the band Saturday, said the very heartbeat of Church on the Move is to bring people together. “Our church slogan is ‘To bring hope to you and your family.’ And that’s what we want to do to the community, too. We want to bring hope to them.”
Kelly said the church makes a point to reach out to veterans as often as possible, pointing out how it serves to bring people together from all walks of life.
“It bridges a generational gap that we really see happening not only in our community, but also in our society as a whole,” Kelly said. “We feel like people are separated. I don’t want to single out our community, but it’s in our community like it is in our whole society.
“People don’t interact like they used to. And a lot of our younger people have so many things that they can learn from the older people, so we just like to bring them together and give them an opportunity to interact, to actually speak to one another, and be face-to-face.
“… Like I was telling the teenagers here, the men and women that will be sitting in this room actually risked their lives. It’s not just stories, it’s not just six-week, made-for-TV movies. These men and women who sit in this room actually put their lives on the line to make us free, so we can have church on Sundays, and worship like we want to worship.
“… We miss the boat big-time if we don’t honor the men and women who made that happen. And we’ve heard so many stories from men and women of the Vietnam era, that this is the first time that they’ve ever been honored, so we know as a society what a poor job that we’ve done.
“With our church, and with the leadership of our pastor, we just really make the point to (honor them). We don’t want to leave the people out who are most important to us.”