Festival of Thanks
An Apostolic church in Connecticut takes time each year to say thanks to local public servants — such as law enforcement, political representatives and educational leaders — in honor of their dedication and commitment to the community,
The Pentecostals of Greater Hartford, led by Senior Pastor Jon Petoskey, host an annual Festival of Thanks to honor and show their respect to all the public servants who demonstrate their commitment by serving the community every day. ”Several years ago, we recognized the great importance for cultivating an attitude of gratitude in our local church toward the public servants in our town and the neighboring towns we are reaching for in Greater Hartford,” said Pastor Petoskey. “Our church is very multicultural and has a great opportunity to show the contrast between the culture of Christ and our national culture, which is very polarized. We didn’t want to wait until there was a crisis locally to build a strong relationship with our public servants. Additionally, we realized a few years ago how important strong connections to key leaders in our town would be for different aspects of our long-term vision.”
Naturally, the agenda begins way ahead of the Festival of Thanks service with multiple efforts and communication to confirm various community leaders will be in attendance. “Through these efforts, we have had our deputy chief of police, chair of the Board of Education, state representatives, state senators, town council members, and two different mayors attend this service,” said Bro. Petoskey. “Our service includes Sunday school at 11:30 and then the Celebration Service at 12:30. The Festival of Thanks is part of the Celebration Service. During Sunday school that day, the teachers have a lesson that teaches on the role of civil servants, their authority and our responsibility to honor them and show gratitude. The children and youth write thank-you notes for their service. We work to cultivate in our youth and children an appreciation for these public servants. In the service, we certainly aim to have the powerful move of the Holy Ghost that is experienced each Sunday, and in addition to that we pause and give a general appreciation to all public servants present.
“A special commemorative plaque is presented to key leaders in attendance, then all of the public servants are welcomed to the front where we have the youth and children come and present a medal that is inscribed commemorating the day with one of the thank you notes they have written. Then we have the children all stand facing the public servants who are in front of the congregation and the children pray for our public servants, with one of the youth leading the prayer in the microphone; after the prayer, one or two of the dignitaries greet the congregation on behalf of all the public servants. This past year, we had two mayors who both greeted the church, and it was a powerful time of blessed fellowship with them.”
The service and recognition has definitely had an impact on the community. “It has certainly increased our recognition in town,” said Pastor Petoskey. “Just this past Memorial Day, we were called on to provide the minister for the invocation at the primary Memorial Day event. It has caused the town of East Hartford specifically to view us as willing partners for any effort to benefit our community.”
The Pentecostals of Greater Hartford look forward to continuing this tradition and seeing the results of giving thanks to those who sometimes go unrecognized for their efforts.