Keeping the Christmas spirit well

GREENVILLE – When Charles Dickens published his famous classic Christmas novella, A Christmas Carol, in 1843, which 177 years later would have thought how much we could learn from this simple, well-made story of the transformed human heart.

Who could forget Ebenezer Scrooge, who was described by Dickens at the beginning of the story as “hard and sharp as flint” and who at the end of the story is “as good as a man, as the good old town knew … in the good old world. “Scrooge’s journey to find out what really matters in life mirrors our own as we face an uncertain future.

Keeping the spirit of Christmas alive and well 365 days a year is a daunting task, especially today. Yet there are those of us who have endeavored to do so through their kindness and generosity, shown in both word and deed. Greenville’s shining lighthouse at 5256 Sebring Warner Road was a beacon of hope and joy. and for nearly four decades, the annual Christmas Community Dinner has taught us that time we spend with friends and family is one of the most popular gifts of the season.

The annual Christmas Community Dinner, which was founded in 1981 by Barbara and Hershel Fee, was a real inspiration and love work from the start.

“For 38 years I haven’t known anything other than the Community Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day,” said her son Eric Fee. “From day one, mom starts planning to buy gifts, buy groceries when it’s for sale, door prizes and donations – mom has done it all. Then she and my father would go in early every Christmas and start cooking for hundreds of people. This was her dream to help people. “

Barbara Fee, who recently passed away in November, always had a heart and smile for those in the community who needed companionship and fellowship over the holidays. Above all, Barbara would share her faith and encourage others to believe that with God all things are possible and that one is never alone.

“She made stickers for the ‘to go’ boxes every year, and they had scriptures like ‘John 3:16’ and many, many more that would remind people to turn to Christ,” said Eric. and added, “My mother read her Bible every day! She loved reading it over and over again. “

This annual dinner, celebrated in Greenville every December 25th, has grown in size and outreach over time with the help of many volunteers and partnerships in the community.

“At Radiant Lighthouse, we believe we’re better together,” said Wes Lynch, co-pastor of Radiant Lighthouse. “We believe in making that a reality. The annual community Christmas dinner really shows this. “

Over the years, the Radiant Lighthouse has been able to expand and grow dinner with the support of many community partners including EB Real Estate, David and Pam Furlong of Fitzwater Lawn and Tree Service, Tribute Funeral Home, Steve Beam and Brody Tarter with Remax, Hydrojet Signs , Wieland Jewelers, the Bankson family, Aaron and Betsy Ward from A&B Coffee, Teafords Pizza, The Whistle Stop, the Riffle family, the Billenstein family, Al and Lyn Bliss, Marty and Connie McCabe, David and Becca Leensvaart, Tim and Leslie Gunckel, Trent and Anna May, Jim Buchy, Second National Bank, Oakley Place, SRL Insurance-Arcanum, Creative Carpet, The Village Green, G&G Floorwear, State of the Heart, Bill Coomer and Aesthetic Finisher, Eikenberry IGA and Rural King Under numerous others.

Community partners Montage and The Merchant House are giving their time and talent to provide fresh meals to everyone in attendance. This year, the Radiant Lighthouse expects a greater range for 750 to 1,000 families. While registration on the Church website is recommended to estimate the number of people in attendance, all ward members are invited and there is no cost.

Although COVID-19 caused many cancellations this holiday season, the members of the Radiant Lighthouse were determined to continue this popular festive tradition in Greenville by making some adjustments to the celebration.

“This will be the first year we have a drive-thru experience,” said Pastor Wes, noting, “With our partners at Wolf Awning and Tent, we will be providing a large drive-through tent for all vehicles, so families can get their free meal and toys for each child from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. “

With so many changes this season, it will be hard to imagine that the Community Christmas Dinner without the founder Barbara Fee would greet those present with her warm and generous smile. However, her legacy continues in showing goodwill to the community she loved.

“Remember to help each other and do whatever you can,” said Eric Fee, adding: “My mother gave herself up and made sure no one went without it. Remember her by helping someone out over Christmas. “

In the words of Dickens Tiny Tim, let’s try to keep the spirit of this blessed season in the coming year: Merry Christmas to all of us; God bless us all!

To learn more about the 39th annual Community Christmas Dinner, visit the Community Christmas Dinner Facebook page or visit the Radiant Lighthouse online at Ask? Call Pastor Wes Lynch or Pastor Hershel Fee at 937-504-6721 or send an email to [email protected]

Barbara Fee, founder of the Community Christmas Dinner, smiled with Santa Claus in 2018. The 39th annual Community Christmas Dinner, hosted by the Radiant Lighthouse, takes place on December 25th from 11am to 1pm with a drive through for food pickup and Christmas toys and gifts. The event is free and open to the public.

Pastor Hershel Fee celebrates Christmas with guests at the Greenville Community Christmas Dinner. Due to the pandemic, this year’s dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Radiant Lighthouse Campus in drive-thru format.

Eric Fee (left) with his father, Pastor Hershel Fee (center) and Pastor Wes Lynch (left) invite everyone to the 39th Annual Fellowship Christmas Dinner, located at the Radiant Lighthouse at 5256 Sebring Warner Road in Greenville, Ohio .

Christmas cheer abounds as volunteers greet guests at the community’s annual Christmas dinner at the Radiant Lighthouse at 5256 Sebring Warner Road in Greenville, Ohio.

The Radiant Lighthouse hosts the 39th annual Community Christmas Dinner

Carol Marsh reports on community interest stories and handles obituaries for Darke County Media. She can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by phone at 937-569-4314.