Dec 12, 2023 | Krista Montgomery

Members of 15 faith communities came together at Stroudsburg United Methodist Church on Sunday, November 19, to share in a creative, meaningful community Thanksgiving service, sponsored by the Monroe County Faith Leaders.

The Rev. Monica Guepet, Stroudsburg’s lead pastor, conceived the idea and composed the service, planned all the worship elements, and invited area clergy to participate.

A community of clergy and faith leaders came there from Faith and East Stroudsburg UM churches, Christ Episcopal Church, Zion United Church of Christ, Chestnut Outreach Center, Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Poconos, Saint Luke’s Roman Catholic Church, Saint Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church, Middle Smithfield Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian and East Stroudsburg Presbyterian churches, Temple Israel of the Poconos, and even from Pocono Plateau Camp & Retreat Center.  They shared scriptures, prayers and devotional readings.

The Rev. Monica Guepet (right), Stroudsburg UMC’s pastor, conducts the community Thanksgiving service, sponsored by Monroe County Faith Leaders.

The Rev. Jack Tironi, pastor of Faith United Methodist Church and a member of the Greater New Jersey Conference, offered a meditation on the theme “Thanksgiving Is Thanks-living.”

Choir of 75 singers from participating faith communities

A mass choir of 75 singers from the participating faith communities presented two choral anthems composed and arranged by Stroudsburg UMC’s David Lantz III, who directed the choir.

A mass choir of 75 singers from participating faith communities

Over 300 community members participated in the service. Many later greeted one another while enjoying refreshments during a fellowship time. And during the service, worshipers donated nearly $1,000 to benefit Monroe County Habitat for Humanity.

We can certainly see how the Lord is working through our congregations to reach out to the local community,” read one of many positive comments posted on Stroudsburg UMC’s Facebook page, attesting to the meaningful impact of the service.  

Others wrote: “The best service! I loved every minute.” “How wonderful it felt to sing with a large choir again.” “It was a wonderful service, and I was so happy to participate.” “What an amazing weekend of worship and fellowship!”

The Holy Spirit at work in the community

All who attended experienced the Holy Spirit at work in the community and were filled with gratefulness for all God’s blessings.

“It was quite a celebration of gratitude for our community,” said Pastor Guepet. “And for many members of our community, it was the first time they had heard other scriptures in other than their own languages.  The exposure to Hebrew and Arabic texts of gratitude expanded many worshipers’ experience of God’s goodness.” 

Editor’s postscript:

According to a report on its Facebook page, during that same pre-Thanksgiving weekend, Stroudsburg UMC also:

  • Served 109 guest meals in its soup kitchen, plus hundreds of cookies and other treats.
  • Filled 74 Christmas stockings.
  • Collected about 250 items for its Ingathering event.
  • Remembered 132 persons at its Hospice Service.
  • Raised $930 for Habitat for Humanity.
  • Stirred countless hearts with words and acts of gratitude and generosity.

The church’s motto is, “We continue to gather, grow and make a difference in our community, together!”