Christmas Dinner carry out at First Lutheran in Geneseo

by Claudia Loucks correspondent

First Lutheran Church in Geneseo has been serving dinner on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, for the last 14 years, and church volunteers will continue the tradition this year on Christmas Day, on a carry-out and delivery basis.

Meals must be pre-ordered by calling Marlee Steiner, 309-441-5194, by Wednesday, Dec. 23, as no orders can be accepted after that day to allow time for the food preparation.

The committee is able to deliver meals only in the Geneseo and Atkinson area, but people from elsewhere are welcome to pre-order a carry-out meal this year.

Pre-ordered meals can be picked up between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the rear entrance to the church, 114 East Main St. in Geneseo.

The Christmas Day dinner includes turkey, potatoes, green bean casserole and dessert.

Jim and Janet Larson, with the help of other church members, were instrumental in planning the first Christmas Day dinner with Mike and Sheryle Vergane.

Janet Larson, Jennifer Johnson and Marlee Steiner are in charge of this year’s dinner.

Larson said in previous years about 150 guests come to the church for Christmas Day dinner and with guidelines in place from COVID-19, she expects there may be an increase in requests for meals.

In the first year for the Christmas dinner, there were about 50 people served and Larson said, “We now are doing many more home deliveries. With that growth, we know we are meeting a need in the community.”

The idea surfaced one year after Thanksgiving when Larson began thinking of ways to reach out to the community, she said.

“My husband Jim and I have been involved in the dinner every year and when our children were all at home, we were all involved. We want it to be a time of serving rather than concentrating on receiving and those are lessons we wanted for our children,” she said, adding that the theme of this year’s dinner is “And we know that God causes everything t work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them,” from scripture Romans 8:28.

She believes the Community Christmas Dinner “is something that is needed in our community and the surrounding area because we are not aware of any other meals offered on Christmas Day. That day can be the loneliest day of the year. We want those people who would otherwise be alone to be a part of our church family on Christmas Day.”

“This has been a hard year for our community,” she said. “We pray that this meal will be enjoyed by our friends and neighbors who need to feel the love and hope that God provides.”

“Christ has called us to be in community with others, to tend to the needs of our neighbors,” she said. “Our mission at First Lutheran challenges us all to share Christ’s love to all. One of the most exciting opportunities is to serve our community on Christmas Day by providing at meal for those who are alone or are in need.”

“By sharing our blessings we, too, are blessed,” she said.

Ian Larson and his mother, Janet Larson, unpack the containers that will be used for the carry-out dinners on Christmas Day from First Lutheran church in Geneseo